Tag Archive | life

The Month of Meh, and how to lighten the dark.

​How many of you reading this are feeling fed up of February? 

I genuinely think its been one of the coldest and wettest February’s for a while in recent years.

Its “meh”. I feel “meh”.

I’m fed up of leaving my house at 8.15am so wrapped up I could easily be mistaken for an abominable snowman. Or a Yeti. Layer upon layer of warm clothes to walk to work in, leaving arms sticking out uncomfortably from your sides as you struggle to do anything while wearing the essential gloves needed to protect hands from the bitter cold. My skin is dry from being out in the cold, then into an artificially heated building. February is not kind to me. February is not selfie month.

And don’t even get me started on the rainy days. And the wind. Add those two elements into the mix and you’ve got the perfect recipe for my worst mood ever. Starting work with bedraggled, wind blown hair, ice reddened face, chapped and dry lips, mud splattered boots and trousers is a look I’m keen to see the back of. I’m longing for the days where I can breeze into work wearing a flowing dress, light jacket, if any at all, and the only redness gracing my cheeks with be the happy, healthy glow of fresh skin, all “Marc Jacobs, Daisy” ad campaign. 
On top of all that, I’m tired. Physically and mentally. I’ve not had a week off work since the third week of October. Retail management means we don’t get time off for Christmas.

I look terrible.

I am shattered.

I’m starting to hate every item of clothing in my winter wardrobe.

It’s too cold to go out and do what I want.

I’m too skint to go out and do what I want.
I should be bloody miserable. I’m not. Sure, I have my moments.

I’m the Queen of Paranoia.

The essence of Self Doubt.

A Gold Medalist in Worrying.

Champion of letting what others think, get to me. 

Ultimately though,  I’m happy.  More so recently than ever before.

And, there is a reason. I think.  A theory I’ve been toying with and inadvertently applying to my own life. I’ve made changes. To myself and around others. 

and Drains
I came across this saying/reference when I stumbled upon the blog posts of James Wittering. www.witteringon.org.  I found his blogs fascinating, and binge read his posts so far. He’s a guy, who has been through some break ups, coming to terms with the implications and just trying to get through life positively and without majorly fucking up. I could relate to that. It was actually refreshing to read about these issues from the male point of view. He talked about how he struggled to watch programmes that he and his ex used to watch together. I too have spoke in the past about how my ex and I used to watch certain things together, yet near the end of the marriage they began to fill up Sky Planner as he was never around and how I have never revisited them since. He seemed of similar mind. I then read his blog about fountains and drains. At the time, I couldn’t really relate it to any part of my life, so I read it, enjoyed it and didn’t give it much thought after that.

 Until early this year. 
I was mulling a problem over and over in my head. Like I do, scared that if I told anyone about it, it would make the problem bigger, more real. I didn’t want to talk about it. I wanted to think. To procrastinate. To work it out on my own. Eventually, I did. I made peace with the problem in my head and managed to put a positive spin on it. Then I told a friend about it.  That friend then made a single comment that started with “but”… and everything I’d just reasoned to be true was thrown precariously back into doubt again with one fail swoop. This is when I remembered about the fountains and drains. 
Let me explain..


Think of your close circle of friends. The people you turn to with good news and bad. When sharing good news with a ” fountain”, they will drink in your every word, then gush with pride and appreciation and shower you with compliments and exclamations of how happy they are for you. They turn your one stream of excitement into a flurry. When faced with your bad news, they will try and put a positive spin on it, try all they can to help you see it as an opportunity. They will give your problem more life ,making it turn from a negative weight on your shoulders, into a fresh bunch of small bite sized issues that they will help you deal with. They are bright, sunny and positive people themselves. They have a positive outlook on life. They also care enough to ask the uncomfortable questions when they think you’re heading down the wrong track. They’ll want to get you back on the right one. Fountains are happy people who see the best even in bad situations. They don’t need other peoples constant approval.  


Same scenario with a drain. Tell them some good news, they will let you flood them with your enthusiasm, swill it around a bit, effectively filling them up with your own positive thoughts before they pull the plug with the simplest of statements such as “but” or “what if”, instantly draining your mood. They don’t necessarily mean to, these drains can still be friends, they just don’t know how to be happy if you are. Its their mindset, not yours. They don’t want to see you set yourself up for a fall, so they throw doubt in there to keep your feet on the ground. On the flip side, with bad news, they offer no solution. If you are trying to see light at the end of the tunnel, they will unintentionally flush away any hope of sorting things out, pulling you further down the drain with them. They want to be there for you but can offer no more than ” oh no”, “oh dear” or, if a good thing has gone bad, drains are the ones likely to say “I told you so”. They are often the ones whose own lives are full of drama and they can’t help but drag you in and down with them. They are impossible to please. Never happy.  Drains almost always self deprecate for no reason too. Try on new clothes and say they look fat when they don’t. Stand onstage to perform, and then rip their own performance apart. They aren’t able to say, you know what, I think it suits me. Or, I really enjoyed that, I gave it my all. They do need approval, someone to say don’t be silly you look/did great. 

We all do have both types of friends. Sure, we have drains in our lives that are intentionally trying to bring us down too, but I’ve long learnt to not let them effect my mood. (Or at very least I know about them, I’m aware of their motive, and I’m TRYING not to let them get to me!).

Since remembering about the fountains and drains blog I read, I’ve made a conscious effort to be selective about who I share my news with. Stepping back from the drains, they will only get edited highlights, be included in general chit chat, generic group conversation. Whereas, when I need to share news, good or bad that has effected me, I’ll turn to the fountains, the ones that will lift me up when I’m down and push me higher when I’m already flying high. I’ve put it to the test. I’ve stopped myself confiding in the ones that don’t seem to really listen, or don’t offer any advice. The ones that, after talking to, I only seemed to feel worse about a situation than I did before. You know, I live in my own head a lot of the time anyway, only admitting I struggle sometimes in these blogs, so its hard for me to talk about issues at the best of times. What I was finding was that interactions with drains weren’t helpful. I couldn’t move on. Their doubt was adding to my own. Made me wish I hadn’t said anything after all. Back to square one. Since taking that step back, the only negative thoughts I have to deal with are my own, as my fountain friends will only offer solutions, shine positive lights. I’m just battling my own demons and NOT the drains too.

My other half is a fountain. He sees everything in a positive light, makes the mundane, routine, every day stuff we experience in our lives seem exciting, different. He questions everything, makes me think, challenges my perception of what is “ordinary”. I share my thoughts on a bad day at work with him and he’ll talk about the good that’s happened, point out something I’d overlooked. He doesn’t even do it consciously, its just his natural persona. Upbeat, positive, despite having good excuses to be miserable himself. These are the kind of people I want to be around.
I’m not for a minute saying that I’m wanting to cut the drains out completely. No, not at all. There’s no light without dark. Everyone in our lives adds value in some way. I’m just saying I’m being more selective about how much access I give them to the inner workings of my mind. 

Another lesson I’ve learnt since working over this whole fountains and drains thing is that I too, want to be a fountain. We all know someone who, no matter what you’re talking about, they will have been through the same thing only ten times better, or ten times worse. Both making your own experience seem somewhat less significant. It could’ve been better. Or, oh no, at least it wasn’t as bad as theirs. Really looking into this I wonder if I’ve been a bit of a drain myself. True, the drama that surrounds me is NOT of my own doing, but it does seem I’ve always got something to say. Some big deal to talk about. Have I been neglecting the people that want to confide in me because I’ve been feeling a little miserable myself? I hate that thought. Have I been bringing others down because I always seem to have something to moan and worry about to the point where people who were once good friends have given up on me?


So, with my new positive mindset and surroundings, I reached out to some people, friends, that I feel have slipped away from me recently. I’ve tried hard not to talk about my own issues unless they’ve asked, purely focusing on them. I’m not saying I stop caring what they are going through when I’ve got my own stuff to deal with, I’m just saying that I’m acutely aware that I disappear up my own arse. In life, like in these blogs, I tend to go on a bit, repeat myself, go off on tangents, bore people. So I isolate myself from talking about any and all problems until a very small window where I want to vent and get it all off my chest and share it with someone. If the person I want to share with is busy when the window is open, then I’ll slam it shut again, to fester and gather dust until I’m ready again. Its noones fault but my own. But because my head is full of my own unaired issues, I’ve struggled to take on anyone else’s. 

Until now. Now I see where I was going wrong. Focusing too much on the negative and letting other negative people bring me further down. I hate to see others upset or down, but if I was feeling the same I was  struggling to be of any use to them either. 

I’ve stopped sharing as many personal views on Facebook, as that is an obvious red flag for drains to cling onto your words and post their own opinions for you and your other friends to see. It didn’t help to vent on Facebook. My privacy settings are such that the intended targets of my rants would never see what I’d posted. I was simply being a drain on others peoples news feeds. I no longer will be. Lesson learnt. I will like and share and post the good stuff! The stuff that makes people smile. The stuff that makes people realise that no matter what life has thrown at you, you can still be happy, if you filter the people you surround yourself with as actively as you filter your Instagram posts. I genuinely want people to know that despite what’s been thrown my way, I’m good. I don’t want people to worry about me. Or feel sorry for me. And I most certainly am not the victim, as I’ve been accused of playing so many times. I want to inspire. I want to tell you about my insecurities, my issues, my problems but show you that it’ll all be OK. Because I’m OK. I want my words to be honest and helpful. I want to give you hope, not dim the light. 

So from now on, I’m re-routing the stream that is life. It will be pushed through and rationalised out through my fountains, and it’ll flow so fast past the drains that they’ll have no chance to pull the plug. 

Let me start right now. February has been shocking weather wise, but its also marking the end of winter. How glorious will it be to see the flowers of spring coming through? In only a matter of weeks the evenings will be brighter, the air will be warmer, plans can be made to do more outdoors. The bad weather won’t last forever. How much more enjoyable will the walk home from work be without battling the wind with your umbrella? Things to look forward to. To appreciate the beauty you first need to see the worst.
I want to be around fountains, I want to be a fountain.


Hey Now, Haenow, Don’t Dream it’s Over

You all know the song that goes “Last night a DJ saved my life”?

Well, it may be a little extreme but on 14th December 2014, an X Factor winner saved my life. OK, maybe he just cheered me up a bit in reality, but the events leading up to that night meant that winner:- Ben Haenow, will always, ALWAYS hold a special place in my heart.


*Ben on X Factor, photograph not my own.

Firstly though, let me address the fact that I do, indeed, watch The X Factor. I’m not ashamed. People criticise it, yeah there are novelty acts that slip through every now and then but we’ve got to remember, this is a ” light entertainment ” show aired at a peak time on a Saturday night. The more people talking about it, good or bad, the better. The reason I like it, essentially, boils down to the fact that I love live music. So many times in my life, I’ve been to local pubs and festivals and thought “how have they not hit the big time yet”, or ” its such a shame more people can’t benefit from hearing their voice”. X Factor has become a platform for those very people. I agree, once they hit the live shows, they get a commercial make over and are almost squeezed into a box to conform to what the show thinks they should be. There’s always the ballad diva, the novelty act, the good looking boy with the weakest voice but the voting public of teenage girls will love him. I get it, its pants. However… Remember this, these acts HAVE to sing live EVERY WEEK. They can’t hide behind auto tune. No, not all of them are good. Some look the part, put on the show, but vocally can’t keep it up. On the very, very rarest of occasions, a real talent will slip through. Although I’ve watched every series, I have only ever voted for three acts in the whole time the show has been running. Matt Cardle, Ben Haenow and Louisa Johnson. They all won. Louisa has recently really taken off, with upbeat dance anthems and a duet with Olly Murs. You’d be forgiven for thinking the other two had disappeared off the face of the earth, but you’d be wrong.

I’ve seen Matt Cardle live and his voice is perfection. This is what ex X Factor contestants are used to. Standing on a stage, giving their all to a crowd of people, live. On X Factor, they had a week to learn new songs, they understand delivering a performance. They haven’t been polished and guided through their career with the proverbial silver spoon in their mouths. Since winning, Matt has struggled with drink and drug problems, something I don’t condone but can fully understand. You go from Joe Bloggs, painter and decorator, scraping pennies together to get by, to having a record contract, a tour and money overnight. The support isn’t there for them. They choose to go on X Factor to get a break. And that break is instant. Matt checked into rehab, sorted himself and came back with an understated, intimate tour and was moved to tears on stage from the support he still had. Still has. Matt’s albums are mainly self-penned. His voice lends itself to soulful, heart breaking ballads but he’s definitely capable of upbeat too. His X Factor performance of “First time ever I saw your face” was spine tingling.

Matt Cardle, X Factor 2010 winner on tour in Birmingham in 2012. Photograph © me

I was fortunate enough to see Louisa Johnson when she toured with Olly Murs this summer. This is a girl who was just 16 when she auditioned for X Factor. She was studying, rehearsing and performing live every week. That is talent.  Pure and undeniable. Her winners single was a flop and she dropped off the radar after that. That didn’t mean she gave up. Just when people had written her off, she came back with the single “Tears”, a collaboration with Clean Bandit, and firmly established herself as an artist away from the show. She’s taken a more edgy, dancey route and it suits her. This girl too, deserves more recognition than she gets. Her voice is beyond her years.

Olly Murs and Louisa Johnson in 2017. Photograph © me

These three favourite acts of mine to come from the show haven’t even had the biggest success since winning. When you look at the likes of One Direction (who were only ever runners up to Matt Cardle), Little Mix and Leona Lewis, who all have international fame now, you could easily say I’m backing the weakest links. But nope, I have my reasons. And Mr Haenow has earnt my loyalty in a way he’ll never know (unless he reads this blog of course).

So onto 2014, Bens year. From his first audition right through to the final, he was my firm favourite. He had a natural gritty, rocky voice which instantly meant any song he covered sounded different enough from the original and distinctively “Ben”. On screen he came across as a cheeky chappy, white van man, down to earth. Each week he got through he looked genuinely shocked and grateful for the support he was getting. In the final he was up against a sassy, ready made artist in Fleur East. She performed as if she was born to entertain. Firm bookies favourite. But Ben, with renditions of Highway to Hell and Cry me a River both perfectly executed, always had my vote. I always remember the judges telling him how brave he was to sing the first part of “Man in the Mirror” completely acapella, just his voice, raw and exposed.

Now, let me explain my opening comment.

My then husband used to watch X Factor with me. When I say “watch”, he did at least used to be in the same room as me. Albeit on his phone, or his laptop. By 2014, he was aware that Ben was my favourite act that series, but more often than not, he’d be down in the cellar “working” when I was having my Saturday night chill out. Our son was no longer interested in watching TV with Mum and Dad. It became my thing. Watching X Factor on my own. 

The final that year fell on the weekend of 13th/14th December. 

In the early hours of Friday 12th December, I kicked my husband out of our bed where he’d fallen asleep after telling me he no longer loved me, and left me crying downstairs. Yes, while I sat crying, wondering what the hell was going on, what this meant, what happened now… he stayed up in bed, where he’d made the statement after I had said I needed a hug as we approached our first Christmas without my sister, and fallen back asleep so deeply he was snoring. If my memory serves me correctly, at about 2.45am, when I could cry and wonder no more, I went upstairs, woke him up and told him to get out. No man could say he couldn’t hug me because he didn’t love me and hadn’t for two years then stay in our bed and fall back asleep. I didn’t care where he went. 

Since then, a lot of people have said that maybe he couldn’t cope with how he thought I was going to be over Christmas. I’ll let you into a secret. The first Christmas and every one since losing my sister, is crap. No two ways about it. The only person that saw me cry was my husband. The one person that I thought it was safe to cry in front of. The person who had taken vows to protect me. Everyone else saw the brave face. I “got on with it”. I didn’t break down often. When I did it was with him. Turns out, he thought he was being strong for me. He wasn’t. I was strong for myself and my family. He was thinking of himself. Trust me, I’m not being nasty saying that. Comments that have been made since have proved this to me. I’m not cold enough to think my sisters death didn’t effect him too. We’d been in each others families for almost 18 years. I’m not saying he’s heartless, completely. But the thing that has stuck with him the most about my sisters death is the fact they were the same age. To this day he still speaks of her death as a life changing moment for him. How he needed to change his life because life’s too short. Cards on the table, the only change he made was leaving me. And even then he said he hadn’t loved me for two years. Since before my sister passed away. 

I had to phone in sick to work on that Friday, and our son had to take a day off school. Not ideal. I hate calling in sick. I hate letting people down. When I’m genuinely ill I go into work to be sent kicking and screaming home again. Lack of sleep, infact no sleep at all meant I had to take the day off, and our son had woken up and heard it all. There was no blazing row. Just that statement and my following order to get out. On Friday I needed to see my husband and have the inevitable “what now” talk. Long story short. It was over, he moved out. Saturday 13th I was back at work. Admittedly, I found paperwork jobs to keep me busy out back for most of the day. But I was there, doing the job I’m paid to do. That night was the first half of Ben’s X Factor final. The press had pretty much declared Fleur the winner, and although I tuned in, I barely watched as Andrea Faustini was voted off, leaving Fleur and Ben going through to Sundays head to head. I was numb. X Factor no longer seemed important. My life had changed overnight and would never be the same again. Nothing else mattered.


So much did change between 2.45am on Friday morning and that Sunday evening. Although I spent a lot of the time wondering what the hell I was meant to do now, and questioning how it had come to this, seemingly out of the blue, I also took the time to think stuff through, find things out, connect the dots and discover untold truths amongst the outward lies. It really is amazing how hindsight and discovering the truth will turn a situation around. When I should’ve still been mourning my marriage, I was actually starting to feel grateful I was out of it. Truth smacking me round the face, waking me up and forcing me to smell the coffee. Struggling only with how it had taken me so long to see what was going on the whole time. They say love is blind. Love had me blinkered and resigned. The blinkers were now off.

I watched the Sunday night final in bed. Still hurt. Still licking my wounds. Still angry as hell. But already starting to see light at the end of a very instant, very dark tunnel. A tunnel which I zoomed through at break-neck speed thanks to the dangling carrot of truth at the end of it. 

Ben Haenow won the X Factor. My phone was ringing and my best friend S was screaming with joy down it. S had been there first thing the morning after it all happened. She was the Watson to my Sherlock. The left to my right. And she was there for me when I needed her. So was Ben. 

We both loved Ben and when he won, I smiled with genuine happiness for the first time in 3 days. The X Factor winner is so trivial. So unimportant when you look at the bigger picture, but Bens win came at a time when I needed a switch to flip. So soon after my marriage breaking up and despite knowing stuff I hadn’t known three days earlier, I was still having conflicting feelings. I’m not cold hearted. I didn’t instantly stop caring about what I’d lost, what I had, what I was to do now. I got stronger as the minutes passed but I wasn’t about to go out celebrating anytime soon. Bens win made me smile. And the smile didn’t feel out of place on my face at a time where most people would probably still be wallowing under the covers in bed and crying themselves to sleep.  New Years eve, which I spent at another friends house, was the real “fuck this shit I’m not crying anymore” moment for me, but Bens win showed me that I would be fine. I knew, deep down that I would be, but after being with the same guy from when I just turned 20, was I sure?

I distinctly remember my ex calling our son the next day and one of his comments was “I bet your Mum was pleased that her favourite won X Factor”.  My son sheepishly answered yeah, still feeling awkward, confused and not understanding what was going on. That moment was the start of a pattern. No matter how little or how much time passes, what I do, where I go, who I see and how I feel will always be asked of our son. Just because I’m no longer loved, the control is still needed, craved, as if some kind of invisible puppet strings are still attached to me. As the time does go on, however, it’s become easier to ignore. Genuinely, his loss. His problem if he can’t let go. All I did was love him, and want him to love me back. Lesson learnt, I’m not sure he ever truly did. 

Anyway, I digress. Ending on a happy note, its only fitting that December, the worst month of the year for me, has this year, become the month I met Ben Haenow. After buying tickets as a birthday present for S, we attended the gig, the first of his tour, looking forward to fun times with our bestie and a sing a long. We didn’t have VIP meet & greet tickets so when we got in and had a browse at the merchandise, imagine our joy to see Ben just stood there,taking time to personally greet everyone. Even when he was notified he had to go ready for the support act, he still had time to pose for a couple of cheeky selfies and indulge us with a hug and kiss. The gig was amazing. Ben sang songs from his album, new releases and very new material. He was entertaining, enigmatic on stage and his voice was as wonderful as I’d remembered. It was a small venue, and it felt like he was aware of every one in the crowd. Putting on a winners performance.

Ben was buzzing, S and I were happy.

If you read this Ben:- Thank You! I kinda love you. 

Photograph courtesy of S

Photograph © me

Pass the script, I’ve lost the plot.

Its time to set the record straight.

Dear strangers,

Whatever you’ve heard about me is not true.

From me.

Unfortunately, the straightening of said record will never reach its target audience. And I’ll have to live with that. My blogs have been nothing but honest. Nothing but my feelings and experiences. There are two sides to every story, and I believe its about time a bit more of mine was told.

Trust me. I don’t ask for drama. I just want to get on with a quiet, happy life! 

I had four odd holiday days to use up and wanted to take two of them this side of Christmas, and the other two after. I randomly chose 15th and 16th September, and took Sunday 17th as a day off, giving myself a rare weekend off. This was a week where noone else had any holiday booked. As good a week as any.

I don’t think my choice was as random as I first thought it was. I think it was my subconscious telling me to take stock of what’s going on and to take back some control. 

Saturday 16th September 2017 would’ve been my 17th wedding anniversary. Would’ve been, if the man I married in 2000 hadn’t told me in December 2014 that he no longer loved me, and hadn’t for two years. 

Of course, I hadn’t forgotten this date. It was weird in 2015, it barely registered in 2016, so 2017 should’ve been almost insignificant, right?


I woke up Saturday morning thinking maybe I shouldn’t have booked off this weekend. Its fair to say a lot of emotions rushed through me. I felt a bit of a failure, what had I done wrong, why did he stop loving me? Of course I’ve since realised that the “love” stopped when my tolerance and naivety about his behaviour did. I then felt anger. Angry that I’d “wasted” the best part of 1997 through to 2014 with the wrong person. The anger soon dispersed when I heard my 14 year old son clattering around in his room. He is the reason it was all worth it. However, I did too feel stupid. Stupid for sticking with it for so long and not ending it myself. I wasn’t happy. I spent the last few years feeling unloved, lonely, unattractive and I’d started to become suspicious and lies were unfolding. That quickly turned to pride. I made marriage vows that I intended to keep. Good times and bad. I was also proud of how I had handled myself since the split. I didn’t talk about any of this for over a year after he left, despite a very active smear campaign against my character on his part. I only talk about it now because there are only so many straws a camels back can take. I didn’t need to resort to lies. I knew the truth, and at the time I had to trust that everyone else would see it soon enough too. The things I heard about myself were dramatic enough to make an EastEnders script. I stayed silent. 

Perhaps the only emotion I didn’t feel on Saturday morning was sorrow. I wasn’t sad. I didn’t miss it. I didn’t want it back. The time off gave me time to think, and reflect upon exactly what I’ve put up with and how far I’ve come. To finally prove to myself that it really shouldn’t matter what strangers thought of me..

However, I’ve mentioned before how hard it is to not care what people, mostly those strangers, believe about you. They’ve been painted a picture of you from one persons twisted mind and that’s the only picture they’ll ever get to see. To try and get you to see how it feels, I have a task for you. 

Go grab a gossip magazine. You know the type I mean. 

Chat. Take a Break. Woman’s Own. 

Now I want you to read all the “real life” stories. Also the readers letters. Perhaps even the Dear Deirdre page. Next, substitute the name of the main negative character/the villian-if you like, in these articles with your own name. Imagine that there are enough similarities and factual occourances in these articles that even you start to wonder if the stories are, in actual fact, about you.

Then, you realise that hundreds, thousands of people that you don’t know,  are reading these articles that refer to you, and they are believing them. Even though they don’t know you, this will now be what they think of you, and you’ll never, ever have the opportunity to correct them, or change their mind. 

Welcome to my life.

Its being written for me.

Believe it all and you’ll think I live my life like a soap opera. The only place where the ridiculous stories I hear about myself actually take place on a regular basis. I wonder if Adam Woodyatt forgets how to be Adam when someone else is writing a life for him as Ian Beale.

You know the saying “you couldn’t make it up”? Well, my  script writer has been there, done that and proudly wears the T-shirt.

I’ve read so many stories centred round my life, that my reality seems mundane and boring! 

The soap opera scripts don’t stop there. I also suffer hang ups over things people have said about me to me. When my relationship ended with alley cat, we tried to remain friends. In a previous blog I’ve mentioned how one sided it was and I made the choice to let it go. Along with finding out some truths about him stringing several women along and attempting to get money out of them, I sent him a message saying “I’ve been told what’s going on, that’s it, I want no part of it” and he promptly accused me as “being the same as all the others”. In fact I was branded a back stabber. It hurt. I hadn’t got involved with what was being said about him. I gave him chance after chance despite him taking me for granted and walking all over me. He had wronged me , yet I was being made out to be the bad one. 

Why does it keep happening to me?

Am I guliable? Easy to manipulate? Still so unwilling to see anything but good in people? Stay quiet for too long when not happy that I end up just putting up with things so as not to rock the boat?

My friends tell me that those that matter know the truth. That karma will come around! Well, maybe I’m done waiting because, even though I know they’re right, I still worry about what complete strangers think is true about me. Its fucking hard.

So, back to that anniversary weekend.

Fresh from hearing a little story that told how I apparently have ” no ambition”, I was faced with a weekend off with nothing to do. My son had plans. My partner was working. 

The same weekend, my home town was hosting a music festival. Live music at various venues across the city centre. My friend L was photographing the event, but she was having to cover as many bands as possible so if I bumped into her it would be more down to chance than planning. So, I decided to go on my own on the Saturday and Sunday.

Armed with just my compact digital camera and my best “I don’t give a shit” attitude, I decided where I was going to go and for the first time ever, I walked into a pub on my own where I had no intention of meeting someone for a drink, and stood and watched the whole set performed by one of the artists at the festival. 

On my own. 

Little, unambitious, lazy, unstable, thieving, selfish, bitch faced me*

 *(if you believe the stories!) 

Setting the record straight, I am none of those things. 

I took a few photos, I went to a few more venues, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Noone around me knew me, noone had read or heard anything about me. And it felt good. I was just me. And that was OK.

I was back writing my own story.

But as always, it was short lived. 

I started this blog wondering, what do they gain from spreading lies about me? They don’t even get to witness the impact of what they say as I very rarely retaliate unless my sons involved.

Nothing. They just can’t help it. Its a game to them. For them to feel good, feel big, they must bring down those around them.

My own life has enough natural ups and downs that I really don’t feel the need to embellish it to make it, or me, seem more exciting. I also don’t feel the need to lie about someone else to try and make their life harder for my own pleasure . I don’t imagine I have a lifestyle anyone would be envious of. I don’t need people to look up to me. The fact that someone, anyone, would need to make up lies about others and themselves screams to me that THEY are not happy. Someone has suggested that maybe they are jealous of my new life, because theirs is still based on lies. That someone also thought that maybe they’d never really gotten over me, and hated the fact I seemingly moved on so quickly. I’m not sure and I don’t want to know.

Trouble is, I’m not dealing with just a bitter, envious person. 

I’m dealing with a narcissist.

Narcissists have a need to be centre of attention, and they need people to like them, to feed them and supply them. They’ll tailor their lies to specific audiences, partners, business associates, whatever, in order to get them on side so that ultimately they can control them. Some never see through the lies, and will happily go along with the narcissist and do their bidding. I’ve learnt because trust me, I’ve done the research, these are referred to as “flying monkies”.  There are some, like me for several years,  that start to get suspicious but put up with it because they don’t want to believe none of it was ever real. These are the ones that supply the narcissist with drama. By this stage, the narc will know exactly what buttons to press to get a reaction, and can cleverly manipulate the “victim” into thinking THEY are the ones in the wrong. They have spent years learning about you, promising you the best, subconsciously moulding you in order to eventually use all they know about you, against you. They’ll convince you that its all in your head and that you are going mad if you say anything. They’ll successfully reign in their true nature for long enough to make you think it was just a blip and it’ll all be fine. Anything you do is never good enough.

 Then there are those who see the lies, can no longer take it and confront the narcissist about them. As soon as the narc thinks you’re onto them, they will drop you and start telling the world what they’d tried to convince you, that it is in fact YOU that’s the bad guy. You are mentally unstable. Even after the relationship ends with a narc, the abuse won’t. They’ll move on to their next “supply” but while things are rosy for a while with them as they build up their story, they’ll still be fishing for the drama from you. There’s no real reason for it. Dragging you down to make themselves look better is just a game. An ego boost. A power trip. They start the smear campaign to belittle you. Trying to show the flying monkies how it was you that made their life hell. They thrive on “oh how awful, poor you, you’re the better person because of it”.

 The battle to keep my dignity and pride intact is ongoing. Strange really, as I have an awesome group of friends here that can see right through it all, so that should be all that matters. But there’s still a growing number of people in a different city, and honesty, probably across the country now,that think the worst of me. It doesn’t matter to them. They’ll never meet me. 

It matters to me. I never know from one week to the next what I’ve apparently done now. Or what fictitious misdemeanor of mine has prompted a particular outburst. I guess yes, it plays a part in my paranoia, how could it not? I am so the opposite of what some strangers think I am. I’m not nasty or malicious, I don’t want to be centre of attention and I certainly don’t want everyone to know my personal business. Unfortunately, I can’t just throw away the script and start again. The script isn’t even in my own hands. What I do need to do, is being braver and writing my own spin off series. One which has a twist in the tale and exposes the truth in a clever way that leaves the viewers gasping and saying “oh I didn’t see that coming, now it all makes sense”.  Because, you see, the trouble with lies is remembering what you’ve told to who and keeping up the continuity of the story. Things will start to not add up. Doubt about the story will start to creep in, to the point where the person being told the lies starts to take whatever the storyteller says, with a pinch of salt.

It may be a long, drawn out storyline, but I’m in for the long haul now, I have no choice. I don’t want revenge, as such, I just want to clear my name. Pick it up out of the mud its been dragged through and restore it to its former glory (albeit a little rusty, hey, I’m not saying I’m perfect here!)

I’m only 40, I’m hoping I have a good few years for the story to unfold. Hey, I’m even holding out for a documentary here.. You know those “truth exposed” ones you get on random Sky channels. You never know, anything can happen in my story. And it usually bloody does!

F.R.I.E.N.D.S  Who’ll be there for u? 

Let me ask you a question.

How many friends do you have? 

Now, I don’t mean how many people would join you on a drunken night out full of fun and laughter, or shopping sprees and lunches out. I could fill a room with acquaintances  with a bit of planning. I mean those that, even though you rarely speak, let alone see each other, would drop everything if you needed them at short notice. Friends that understand all the factors in your life that make you seem like an unsociable waste of time. I work full time. My son lives with me full time. I don’t have an awful lot of spare cash. I only get to see my partner once, occasionally twice a week, so no, I’m not free on the one night everyone else seems to be. I can be a boring bugger for whom the literal meaning of Netflix and chill is often what I want to do. On my own. If I was my friend, I wouldn’t put up with me.

So, real friends. What are they? What do they do to earn the title? 

I can honestly say, I can count on one hand the people that I class as those that put up with being my friend, a true friend, despite all the above. Five people, spanning my 40 years on this planet. The longest I’ve known for 23 years, the shortest I met this year. 

During school, I was quite shy. I had a very small group of friends, most are still in touch now, two of them are Godparents to my son. It was a small group, and that’s what I was comfortable with. I had classmates. People you’d walk from one lesson to the next with. I was neither bullied nor popular. I just, was. My childhood was wonderful. Easy even. Parents still married, both working, we had regular holidays. Nothing happened that needed me to think about who was there for me in a crisis. I got along with people, but noone new was added to my circle of friends. Then, as I still am today, I was happy with my lot. Never felt I needed more. 

At college, I had to become a little braver! Only one person from my school was going to Art College that I had classed as a friend, and even she was doing a completely different course to my Fine Art & Design. Lunchtimes we would seek each other out, but we had to make new friends. She was more sociable than me. If someone didn’t make an effort with me, I wouldn’t start a conversation. 

One of the first friendships I made at college was with an outgoing, chatty girl from Bangladesh. We had nothing much in common apart from drawing but she was the loud to my quiet. She helped my confidence but she soon switched courses and went to do Textiles leaving me back to square one. We’d catch up lunchtimes, but my days were looking lonely. I was left sat on a table with two guys who had become friends with each other. One of them was a deep thinking, sarcastic guy with a rather bleak outlook on life,  the other a bit more outgoing. I kind of ended up becoming the third wheel in their friendship, but grew particularly close to the deep thinker. After a while, we became inseparable. At lunchtimes we’d escape to the local park for him to have a smoke, and we’d talk and talk. People assumed we were an item. We weren’t and I didn’t see it going that way at all. I was so blooming grateful to find someone who accepted me for the way I was and was happy to just keep me company. I did a two year course at Art college, and the majority of that was spent with this guy. Until, everything changed. Valentines Day came around, and he asked my advice about telling a girl he liked her. I did the whole “you’ll never know if you don’t tell her” and “the worst she can say is no”. Supportive friend and all that. Now reading this you can probably see where this is going. I didn’t, at the time. Maybe because this guy was the first close male friend I’d ever had. I saw no attraction from him, nor did I feel any towards him, so when he replied ” in that case”, while producing a card and a rose from his backpack, I really quite honestly didn’t know what to say or do. Actually I can’t remember what I did do. Perhaps I’ve blocked it out of my mind. All I know is, even though I was keen to keep the friendship, it didn’t last. Well, not in the same way. A trip to Belgium was imminent, and I wanted to be in a room with my friend from Bangladesh. However, her new textiles friends didn’t want me in the room because, and I quote “she’s too quiet, I’d feel awkward trying to talk to her”. Even if we’d still been close, sharing with the deep thinker wouldn’t of been allowed, and I was put in with a girl I barely knew, who got drunk every night and had a fling with the barman. I vividly remember sat in a corridor while her friends comforted her one night after the barman had told he had no intention of keeping in touch after she’d returned home. Sat in the same corridor was the deep thinker. He was there regretting drunkenly sleeping with a girl in our party. We sat in silence and I hoped our friendship could be rekindled when he started telling me what had happened. We did speak a bit more again after that trip, but I’d definitely lost my best friend. I got through the rest of college with no one to really call a best friend. I was too quiet, too boring and didnt smoke nor did I drink excessively. I suppose I never really fit in. I enjoyed my college days, but I came away with very few life experiences. Today, I’m still in touch occasionally with the girl who moved to Textiles. A few others have popped up on Facebook. None of them could be counted on in a crisis.

Now I’m not saying that all of my friends wouldn’t jump in a car to be at my side in an emergency if I needed them. They would, I’m sure of it. As I would for them (if I could drive!). The majority however don’t put up with me on a regular basis. Don’t suffer my insufferable paranoia 

So, on to those that do. Those people that put up with me, put themselves out for me, still love me despite seeing me go through the highs and lows of life, let me rant on and on about the same thing so that I can get it straight in my own head, listen to me justify myself over situations that to them, I don’t need to justify myself over. Like I said, I can count them on one hand.

The one where we wrote to each other.

During our teenage years, my sister and I had several penpals each. Most of them had similar interests in music and football. I found writing to people so much easier than talking to them, a trait that stayed with me. I am so much better at writing than talking! Anyway, some of our penpals we were able to meet up with on big get togethers in Birmingham or London. Others were too far away. Many good friends were made in the process. Again through the wonders of Facebook I’m still in touch with many of them and its great to see marriages, kids and good times for them all. One particular penpal that I started writing to in 1994 though, we’ll call her LC, has become one of the five people that I count as a real true, message whatever time of night, friend, and the one I’ve known the longest. After a penpal advert was published in a football magazine, we started writing to each other. She lived the opposite side of the country but our letters were nothing short of epic. Most of my penpals at the time had really pretty stationery and would write a couple of sheets worth each time. LC and I would use standard A4 ruled paper and our letters would on average be about ten sheets each time, front and back!! We talked about football, boybands, crushes. Everything and anything. As with everything, life got in the way and the letters weren’t as often and eventually stopped but Facebook allowed us to keep in touch. Neither of us could drive and the journey across the country was long and expensive. We talked about meeting up, but logistically it was difficult. However, an opportunity arose in 2010 when I had to attend a course at my work place Head Office near Norwich, which was as near to LC in Ipswich that I was ever likely to get. The hotel they put me in was literally in the middle of nowhere and it was still a bit of a trek for LC, but we did it and finally met for the first time 16 years after becoming friends! Since then I was lucky enough to be able to go to her wedding and we’ve even been to a Reunion concert in Birmingham together. Distance means nothing. She picks up on my vague Facebook statuses and messages me right away, almost knowing what is going on. We don’t talk every day. We don’t need to. I know if I needed an honest unbiased opinion, LC would give it to me. I suppose that’s a good point about a long distance friendship with no real friends in common, you’ll always get an opinion that has your best interests at heart because they aren’t influenced by loyalties to the other people involved in your situation. Its good to have a friend who isn’t in your usual circle. We are determined to meet up again soon, but whether we do or not, the friendship is unbreakable. The distance makes it impossible to fall out over trivial things. I do believe very few people have a friendship like this, but, despite the miles, it works for us.

The one where we’re like sisters.

Next up is a girl I met in my very first job. In 1997, S was literally just 16 and I was 20.  Most people make friends in the workplace, and through staff nights out etc, some become closer than others. S and I were friends at work and after we went onto different jobs we kept in touch, went on memorable nights out, she came to my wedding and we grew to be good friends. She won’t mind me saying that we didn’t talk for a few years, a combination of me feeling she had let me down by not coming to something I felt was important, and work taking her away from our hometown. However, I soon reached out to her again and, after hearing her side of the story, its fair to say, since getting back in touch, we are stronger than ever. I literally love this girl to pieces. The day after my marriage broke up, she was sat in my front room, at short notice, helping me and doing all she could to uncover the truth about things I’d heard regarding the split. She is my rock. She is my concert buddy. She has got my back. She is my bodyguard. She’s first in line to sort anyone out who crosses me. She is my very very best friend. She’s as protective over my son as I am. She’s the bad influence who keeps me out all night despite my insistence it won’t be a late one. Again, work commitments and life mean we don’t talk every day, but when we do get together, its like we’ve never been apart. It doesn’t matter if we’re out on the town or sat watching a movie with take out, we have just as much fun. She’s my go to girl. My partner in crime. The person I’d talk to if I needed to know if camels sweat, or equally if my life depended on it, she’d be there. Good times and bad. This girl whisked me away for a day of pampering for my 40th birthday because she knew I needed it. 

The one where we work together.

My next job at Tiny Computers saw me working with a guy, let’s call him B. I worked here while pregnant with my son in 2003, and through B, I met his girlfriend LJ and their year old daughter. LJ would come in to see B at work, and due to the nature of the job, ie  not constantly run off your feet serving people, I got talking to LJ too. Fast forward a few years and LJ and I were enjoying the same kind of epic nights out that S and I enjoyed, long after I no longer worked with B and she no longer dated him. We’ve been in constant contact and although not out with each other all of the time, we’d still see each other around due to the close proximity of our jobs. Again, a few quieter years where work and being Mum took over for the pair of us, but fond memories of pushing each others children around in their pushchairs were shared. Then a job became available at my current workplace, and LJ was miserable to the point of illness at her job. She applied, was interviewed fairly (and she interviewed fantastically) and she got the job fair and square. Since then, she has worked her way up to become my assistant manager. We’ve both had equally bad times and we are both always rooting for each other for things to turn out for the best. Its probably LJ I feel the most sorry for as out of the 5 friends I’m talking about, she really does have to “put up” with me the most. She’s seen the tears, witnessed the paranoia face to face. The others tend to get the toned down, calmed down messaged version.. While poor LJ gets it in blasts as soon as she gets into work. But then I’ll get the same from her, and that’s why we’re so close. Rough with the smooth. Days at work can be long and slow.. working with LJ, you can add random to the list. With just one look, we know what the other is thinking, and its usually something we shouldn’t be!  On that note though.. it’d be kind of unfair not to mention my other two work girls. We may not have the same number of years friendship under our belts but my gosh have they been there for me. They have literally worked with me through my best and worst days. The lot of them have seen tears, put up with giddy squeals of happiness. Laughed with me, made coffee for me. As a small team of 4, we almost HAVE to get on, but collectively, this lot would be friends through choice now. That goes for ex employees too. Amazing ladies that I miss so much that were and still are there for me. One thing my current workplace attracts is awesome people. Team 133- you know who you are! 

The one where we can cry on each others shoulders.

Fourth on the list of friends I can turn to sort of sneeked up on me. At primary school, our sons became good buddies, and L and I would chat in the playground while waiting for them to finish on the odd occasion I was able to be there due to work commitments. We became friends on social media, which mainly involved sorting out our sons social lives. The more we talked, the more we found we had in common, and more so, how similar we were in character. Both paranoid. Both doubt ourselves. We became each others “pep talk”. Whenever one of us was feeling down, the other would build back up again. That is exactly how this friendship has continued. L is an amazingly talented woman, who shouldn’t need telling that she’s awesome. Understanding where she’s coming from though helps. L really truly came through for me when my marriage broke up. I experienced some very low lows that I hid from the world and couldn’t let my family see after all the suffering they’d already been through. L wouldn’t sugar coat things, she’d relate stories and experiences of her own that proved to me she got me. She understood me. Most importantly, she made me realise it was OK to feel everything I was feeling. I wasn’t wrong. I wasn’t over reacting. Since then, if I need a kick up the backside, I talk to L. And her, to I. We often say to each other its both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so very very deeply. L is the one that understands how I can relate songs to my life, because she does too. L is my voice of experience. She is my oracle of advice. She’s the one most likely to tell me “F#&k the lot of them”.

The one where we’ve only just met. 

The final person on my list proves that it doesn’t matter how long someone has been in your life, its how they’ve proved they are there for you in that time. I met them by chance just this year and general chit chat led to more in depth conversation, which led to feeling like I’d known them forever. There is no history to go into on this one as its so new, suffice to say, I feel they are there for me, and I, them. 

Some people come into your life and you get to know them, and you get on well, but you don’t think to tell them if something important happens until you see them again. Occasionally, very very rarely, you’ll meet someone who, with good news or bad, you’ll think to contact straight away, because their opinion on it will matter to you. 

I don’t have a crystal ball to see into the future, but going purely with my gut instinct, I reckon if I was to write this blog again in five years time, the same 5 people will be on it. 

Perhaps there’ll be more added.  I certainly won’t let it lessen without a fight. 

They will always be my friends, they know too much! 

The Big 4-0h No….

Rum. Drink lots of Mount Gay Rum you wont feel like youre forty😈

– Jackie, 2017

The first forty years of life give us the text: the next thirty supply the commentary. – Arthur Schopenhauer

We don’t understand life any better at forty than at twenty, but we know it and admit it. – Jules Renard

In around 4 months time, I will be hitting the grand age of 40. Essentially, I’m now “mid-life”. A quick Google at life expectancy in women puts it at around 83, so its fair to say I’m almost halfway through my life, all being well. My sister never made it to 40. She passed away at 39 and a little under 2 months. I’m officially older than my older sister. For that very reason, I’m not scared of turning 40. No siree. I will grab it with both hands. Its a milestone my beloved sister never reached so I plan to not only reach that milestone, but to travel as far past it as possible. I vowed to make the year leading up to my 40th birthday as good as I possibly could. Despite external forces trying to bring me down, I’d say I am pretty pleased with the way its turned out. So far anyway.

Just lately though, my body and physical appearance have been trying to stop me in my tracks in my war of taking on 40 and winning.

I feel 40.

I look 40.

How, and more importantly, WHEN, did this happen?

Now, I wouldn’t say I was a vain woman. I like to, or at least try to, look nice. Back in my twenties, a night of very little sleep had no effect on my appearance the next day. My youthful skin looked fresh no matter what I did, or didn’t do. I’ve never been one for lotions and potions. I get drawn in by pretty packaging and floral scents, use them for a few days and then get fed up of the routine. The older I get, the more likely I am to hit that darn snooze button instead of getting up to cleanse, tone and moisturise. As I said, in my twenties, it seemed it didn’t matter. However, have I shot myself in the foot approaching 40 by not keeping the routine through my younger years? As the lotions and potions of days gone by gather dust on the bathroom window sill, a night of very little sleep now leaves me waking up looking like an extra in The Walking Dead. My skin, at best, looks grey. The furrows in my brow, if filled with water, could quench an entire continent during a drought. When I smile, the corners of my eyes no longer crinkle cutely to give expression, they fold. They fold up like rows of jumpers on a display shelf in Primark. One on top of the other. The reflection staring back at me from the mirror no longer represents the twenty something young woman I often still think that I am.

Therein lies another issue. Thinking. My mind. Its going, you know. Often first thing in the morning or later into an evening, I get words wrong, sometimes forgetting them all together. Its frustrating. Is it my age? Or is it just because I’m tired and in desperate need of a holiday? I don’t know. I do know it scares me. My spritely 13 year old son finds great amusement in correcting me when I call his iPad a laptop. Or the TV remote, the DooDah. I do remember eventually, but not quick enough to include it in the sentence I’m using. There’s nothing wrong with my memory, as such, I remember what I did when, appointments etc. Every blissful second spent with Mr Amazing is etched into my mind. My son tells me he needs £3 for something or other at school in two weeks time though, nah, its gone. I have to be reminded, constantly. Then disappointment and annoyance sets in when, on the morning in question, my son asks for the £3 and I don’t have it. I have sent him in with pockets full of silver and copper before now. Again, is this age, or just another side effect of my over active, over thinking paranoid mind not being able to hold onto more than one thought at a time? I don’t know. All I do know is, its getting worse. 

Then we move onto the physical side of things. Three years ago I was a size 16-18. I’m now a size 10… ish. Post Christmas I’ve edged up very slightly to a 12, but that’ll change. Trust me, I’m a lot happier to be going into 40 as a size 10-12 than I would’ve been at a 16-18. That is not at all to do with vanity, it really is from a health perspective. My walk home from work is all up hill. When I was bigger but younger, it was a struggle. When my size changed it felt easier. Hell, it was easier. The scales have tipped again though as age has crept up on me. The perfect combination to tackle the hill of doom is a healthy weight and youth. Not a healthy weight and age. The steepest bank on my journey home really takes it out of me. I don’t get out of breath but each footstep is a struggle. Luckily my son has his own key as he often beats me home when we’ve been to town together. I’ve never been a big exerciser. My weight loss was down to a lifestyle change, not a healthy eating programme teamed with a rigorous exercise regime. My job isn’t overly physical, but I am on my feet for around 8½ hours a day. Radox Muscle Soak and a Heat Lotion are becoming my legs best friends.

Something else that’s been playing on my mind as I try to slam on the breaks at the cusp of turning 40- Fashion. How do I dress? Do I suddenly rush to the hairdressers and get a sensible short grown-up cut, or can I keep my past the shoulder mousy brown unruly mop? Turning grey doesn’t bother me. So far, the only grey hair I’ve spotted is a reoccurring wiry thing in my right eyebrow, but he’s easy enough to say sayonara to. Pluck and go. I am accutely aware that turning grey will potentially change what colours suit me, but essentially grey goes with everything. More choice isn’t a bad thing. No, grey hair doesn’t scare me. Mr Amazing wears the salt and pepper George Clooney look very well. I’d be happy to join him. Clothing however…I’m lost. When I lost weight, I was able to wear shapes, colours and styles my size 16 frame would never of even considered. I used to get fashion so wrong. In my job before my current one, I was not only manager, but the oldest one out of a team of 5/6,  even more at Christmas. With youth comes the ability to wear whatever you want and not look too dressy or too casual. The girls were in vest tops, jeans and heels but looked dressed up enough for a night clubbing. If I put on the same ensemble, I looked as if I was nipping to the shop to get a loaf of bread. So, I’d often chose a dress, something plain, subdued, but still I looked as if I’d got bored of the wedding party I was at and gatecrashed an 18th birthday party. I never got it right. 

Now working in a ladies clothes shop, essentially aimed at more “age appropriate” clientele, I think I’ve got it just about right. I can wear a dress and not feel too dressy. I can wear jeans with some kick ass boots and not look like I’m going for a walk with the dogs. I got it. But that’s at 39….will things change at 40? I know I sound unreasonable, but having been wrong and right in the past, I don’t trust myself to get it right. 

Being 40 doesn’t scare me.

Its just the side effects of 40 are coming along far too quickly for my liking.

So, what can I do? What can I change? 


Feeding a 13 year old boy seven nights a week, its very easy to fall into the trap of cooking a meal that he will enjoy and I tolerate. I don’t feed him junk food every night, but on the occasion he does deserve his favourite battered chicken and chips, I often do myself the same, just for ease and to save time. Not ideal. Neither of us are big vegetable lovers and although I try and include it in our diet, I struggle to find something we both enjoy. After researching foods I should be eating, I’ve made a conscious effort to improve my diet. Now, when cooking fresh meats for my son and I, when he has chips and peas, I’ll have stir fried noodles and peppers/onions. Takes minutes in a wok. In my quest for discovering the best foods to eat, I read a lot about “superfoods”. Now they were big in the early 2000s and I dismissed them as being bland, tasteless rabbit food favoured by size 0 celebrities. However, I came across Quinoa. 

“Pronounced “keen-wah,” this protein-packed grain contains every amino acid, and is particularly rich in lysine, which promotes healthy tissue growth throughout the body. Quinoa is also a good source of iron, magnesium, vitamin E, potassium, and fiber.”

I figured it was worth giving it a go. I got a pack of the red and black variety, which was apparently was “ready to eat”, or could be cooked in a similar way to couscous. Straight from the packet, it did absolutely nothing for my curious tastebuds. However, that night I made a stir fry with Quorn chicken and straight to wok wholemeal noodles. I threw a handful of Quinoa in just before serving, and thoroughly enjoyed the slight nutty taste that came through. I’ve not yet tried it cooked on its own, but at least I’ve found a way to throw a bit of goodness into my meals!


Most people tell me to drink more water, that will help my skin. I hear them. I try. I just don’t enjoy it. Anyone that watches The Gilmore Girls, just think of Lorelai Gilmore. Coffee. Coffee is my one vice. I drink decaf at home, have done ever since being pregnant. I can’t give it up. I’m addicted. I sleep so little at night with or without it, I’ve given up trying to cut down. (I tried, with zero effect on my erratic sleep pattern). 

So, my only other choice, along with the healthier foods, is making a resolution to stick to a skin care regime. Again I turn to my trusted friend Google. I wanted affordable but effective. Several reviews led me to http://www.nipandfab.com . With product ranges called Vipers Venom and Dragons Blood, along with claims of being the best skin care products around £10, I was drawn in. The “Frown Fix” was what I went in search for. Adding that to my basket I noticed an offer of free night cream when you purchased the blurring fix serum. Oops, how ever did they end up in my basket too?

I have been using the products for a week and I can honestly say, my skin feels smoother. Visible results apparently show after 4 weeks. So as long as I keep up the routine and try not to frown while inspecting my frown, I should be fine. Time will tell.

Of course, along with the negative eventualities of getting older, there are also a few silver linings. I now know I don’t have to like everyone I meet, and I’m OK with not everyone liking me. I have a wealth of knowledge and experiences to pass onto my son. The people in my life now are the people that I want there. I’ve learnt, the hard way admittedly, what true love should feel like. I already know my tolerance levels of alcohol.  And Bulls*#t. 

I’m feistier.

I don’t settle for any less than I deserve.

Finally, I know what I’m worth. Someone has made me realise that I, just the way I am, am perfect for them. After years of never feeling good enough, knowing the impact I can have on someone else’s life just by being me, is priceless. 

And worth the 40 year wait.

I am (Wonder) Woman, hear me ROAR (*purr)

I am not perfect, nor will I ever be. I am a work in progress, and that is definitely good enough.
Quote by Unknown

I’ve always been good at what I do. That’s not meant as a big headed, bragging comment, it means that I do my best in any situation I’m put in and that my best is often good enough. What I do and can do is acceptable and will get me by in life. It’s comfortable. I can do it with ease. I don’t need to push myself and I don’t need to put myself in an unnerving position. I’m a capable person.
However, could I be BETTER at what I do?
Yes, most definitely. If we’re honest, couldn’t we all? There are very few people who would put themselves in a challenging position through choice, just to see how much better they could do if they strived for better than the minimum effort required. You take a test and the minimum pass score is 85%. You get 85%, you’ve passed. Hands up, who would be pleased with that? Me. I would. I’ve said before and I stand by my statement, that I’m happy with my lot. I truly truly am. I don’t want more, bigger or better. I never will. Although I’ve started wondering, if, by not exploring my full potential, I’ve restricted my own “lot” without even realising it. In life, we tend to take the easy option. I mean on a day to day level. Many jobs demand the very very best of a person’s ability, jobs where “good” isn’t good enough. I take my hat off to surgeons, precision engineers etc who have no choice but to achieve perfection.

If I applied that principal to everything I do in life, where could being better than good take me?
How could my life change if I decided to break out of my comfort zone and push for excellent instead of good?
What potential do I have locked away inside me because I’ve always settled for good?

I’m onto a win win situation with this one. I’m already happy. So if I strive for excellent and only get good, I’ll still be happy. That’s down to my mind set. Some people set themselves unrealistic goals, fail and then aren’t happy. That’s not me. So, if, per chance, I took a risk, and failed, I’d still be a winner.
At school I was a good student. I walked away with all 10 GCSEs. All grades B or C. No As. I got enough to get me onto the college course I wanted to do. It was good enough.
At college, I passed the course. I didn’t pass with distinction or merit. But I did pass and that was good enough.

My first job leaving college was a part time sales assistant at a stationery shop. Within a few short months, I became a supervisor. I have my head screwed on and I have common sense, a trait, I’ve come to learn, that not everyone has. (In this particular job, a colleague asked how to get a dirty mark off something and he was told to use elbow grease. He seriously asked where he could get some… say no more). A couple of years in, the manager went on holiday over Christmas leaving me in charge. I achieved the best figures that store had ever seen. Yet, when the managers position became available, I didn’t want it. I was happy and content in my comfort zone, stepping up when I had to, then handing the reigns over when I could.

My next job was at a computer shop. Still retail but more sales focused. Again, starting off as a sales advisor, but by the end of my three year stint there, I was assistant manager. Redundancy meant I had no chance to go further in that job, and as I was made redundant whilst on maternity leave, I was forced to look for any part time job to keep us going. Two interviews and two job offers later, I chose to work for a famous camera shop. 20 hours, part time sales. Within six months I was a full time, and when the position became available, I went up against a supervisor and got the position of Sales Floor Manager. The manager was above me still, but I was the most senior shop floor based staff member. Redundancy hit again (you’ll notice a theme here), so I was job hunting again.

This time though, I decided to apply for manager jobs. The problem is, most employers state you must have at least “x” amount of years experience in a managers rule to be considered. I’d only ever been second in command, so really didn’t fancy my chances. I went for an interview as a sales assistant at a computer mega store and was offered the job on the day. However, when I turned up for the interview and was greeted by a lad with his feet up on the counter and told to go for a walk because I was too early, I knew the managerial instinct in me could not work there as just a sales assistant. I did accept the job offer, when you have a child you can’t be fussy, and I knew I’d be able to do the job. I did however, have another interview lined up for the very next day, which I still planned to attend. It was for manager of a toy/gadget shop. Manager….. Having a job offer already took the pressure off a bit as I knew I wouldn’t have to be on the dole for long. Attending the interview I was still nervous, and as expected I was quizzed about why I’d never taken a managers role. I thought I’d have no chance. An hour after the interview, my phone rang and I was offered the job. My first managers role. I gleefully turned down the position at the computer store. After 4 years of being the best store in the area, redundancy hit me for the third time. This time the only jobs I applied for were manager positions. Knowing my own capabilities now, I didn’t want or need to settle for less. Having absolutely no “fashion retail experience” whatsoever, I applied for a job that said it was “essential” to have. I got the job as manager of a ladies fashion store and four years later I’m still here. With no essential previous experience in fashion retail. So, you can see that when I say I’m a capable person, it’s accurate.
I love this job, and I think that unless redundancy wants to be really cruel and hit me for a fourth time, I’m gonna stay here. I’m settled, I can do this job. I’m comfortable. I don’t want the next step. My ex couldn’t understand this, and sometimes I felt my job and the effort I put into being good at it was frowned upon.

To me though, job satisfaction and time with my family was and still is more important to me than a high end job with better pay, which, more often than not, means that you spend more time away from home. Area managers travel the country, attend meetings at a head office not local, don’t get home till unsociable hours. That’s not for me. I’m sure I could do it. I just don’t want to.
Put me in a challenging position and I will shine. Do I want to be in that position every day? No. If I’m honest, I’d rather be different to everyone else rather than be better than everyone else.

“Being a one of a kind means we are automatically the best in the world at what we do.”
― Victor WIlliamson


In July last year, my shop was unexpectedly closed due to the shopping centre wanting to change the look and clientele in that area. A visit from the big boss reassured me that we were going to be relocated, but he didn’t know how long that would take, but he didn’t want to lose me or my team. It took three months to find us a new home. During those three months, we had to cover other stores. I don’t drive, so for five days a week I was relying on trains and the occasional lift and worked in Redditch, Kidderminster, Stratford, Stourbridge, Evesham, Hereford and Shrewsbury. Worcester to Shrewsbury on the train is not a nice journey. Especially when you were faced with an 8 hour day on your own the other end….. Travel time to stores was not included in our pay. I’m on a 40 hour contract but was easily doing nearer 55 with the extra travelling involved. I live less than a 15 minute walk from my own city centre. It was a big difference. I wasn’t getting home till around 8pm most nights. Later if covering Shrewsbury. My social life went out the window. I’m not going to lie, the temptation to jump ship after a month of doing that was strong. But like I say, I like this job, and I am the manager. I had to lead by example. I knew my team were feeling it too, and I felt an obligation to them to stick it out. After two months and still no news of our own shop, I really almost did give up and started to look at what jobs were out there. Feasibly though, I couldn’t see myself being able to attend interviews as the stores I worked in were needing my cover so couldn’t change days. It was frustrating. About 2 weeks or so before we finally moved, my assistant manager spotted some post in the doorway of an empty shop unit rumoured to be a possibility. It was addressed to our company. We still didn’t know how much longer we were expected to cover other stores but this is where my best came in. I can truthfully say I was right at the edge of my tolerance of rush hour trains and really didn’t think I’d be able to do much more, but, as the requests to cover other stores kept coming, I messaged my girls with a message saying the end is in sight now, as annoying and tiring as it was, we all needed to suck it up, pull together and stick with it.

Our store opened in October, and the new location is challenging at best. It’s not on the main run for our customers and it took a while for people to find we’d relocated. Almost 6 months later we still get people coming in saying they didn’t know where we were. Our figures are being pitted against last year’s takings in a much more prominent position, I could be giving my all, my very best and some and we still wouldn’t achieve those figures in this location. It’s been dis-heartening to say the least. My team are fantastic, we consistently hit bonus based on how many people who enter the store actually buy. We are proving that we are doing our very best with those few that do come through our doors. With this is mind, I do put my all into this job now. Some managers are blessed with busy shopping centre locations with footfall throughout the day, no matter what the weather. I am doing my best with an out of the way setting, no footfall when it rains, customers TELLING us they don’t come to us anymore because of where we are and stating to us that we must be quieter than our previous location. With a practised smile I tell them that we’ll do well wherever we are positioned, due to the exceptional customer service we provide and having loyal customers like themselves. I’ve accepted our figures won’t compare to the previous location, but that doesn’t mean my attitude will change. Good will have to be good enough because our situation won’t allow for more. But I can be best at being good…..

Last month a friend of mine came to me with a business opportunity, which has so far been very very successful for him. He wanted me to join his team. I was extremely sceptical about it, really not seeing what was in it for me. After taking the time to explain how it worked, he convinced me that I could put as much or as little effort into it as I wanted to, and basically it would pay off. I agreed. As with everything, at the moment I am doing the minimum required and I am already starting to see potential, starting to see where it could take me if I gave it my best and pushed myself out of my comfort zone.
Being good is obviously working for me. I wake up with a smile on my face, looking forward to whatever the day wants to bring my way. Willing to embrace and deal with the ups and the downs that are inevitable. I have a partner who surprises me, supports me, appreciates me and maintains the smile on my face.
So right now, my life is ticking along quite nicely on being just good. My inner Wonder Woman can rest a bit longer, but watch this space, I have a feeling she’s in there.

Moving On

Something happened earlier this week that made me question myself and what I’m doing. In fact, two major things have happened.
My marriage broke down exactly 15 months ago. Since then I have been on several dates and actually had three relationships, including the current one, which, by the way, is into its 7th month (cue happy dance). My ex started a new relationship a month or two after the split and by all accounts is still with her and lives with her. My first relationship after the split started in the January. Not long before my ex started dating again. Everyone, including my ex, made comment that it was too soon. So my question is this. How long is long enough after a long term relationship breaks down, to start dating again? Also, is it different for men and women, and does it depend on who left and who was left? Because, quite frankly, I’m confused.
So here’s the deal. Quick recap if you haven’t read my previous blogs. I met someone in January 2015, a month after my husband of almost 15 years left me saying he no longer loved me. I loved my husband unconditionally. He is the father of my purpose in life, my gorgeous son. I wasn’t good for a while after that but for my son and my parents, I picked myself up and as a result, met someone without even looking for it. It wasn’t a conscious decision to put myself out there and meet someone new. I wasn’t ready then. It happened anyway. I only told close friends at first, as even I thought it would be seen as too soon. Then, out of complete respect for our marriage and history, I told my ex. I thought it was best he heard it from me than from mutual friends who had seen me with another man. At the time, his words indicated he was pleased for me. A couple of weeks down the line it transpired that he too was talking to someone, the woman he now lives with. Friends were concerned I should’ve spent some time on me before embarking on a new relationship, but to me, I thought, why not give it a go? As I said, I didn’t see myself as ready but I liked this guy, he seemed to like me, how would I ever know if I didn’t try. Life is too short, a motto you’ll hear from me over and over again. I’d done my grieving for my marriage but, at the end of the day, I was no longer loved so, I had been emotionally released to move on. I didn’t stop loving my husband straight away, but mentally there was no point in holding onto something that wasn’t going to grow back. He had, unfortunately, made that clear by the time I met my first new boyfriend. It was clear to me that the marriage could not be salvaged, and let’s face it, who, after hearing the words “I don’t love you anymore”, could go back into a relationship with that person and ever feel confident or secure again? I knew it was over. Why should I go through the heartache of trying to fix what couldn’t be fixed?

For a short while everything was fine, but then, for no reason it seems, accusations started flying my way. Didn’t I think my relationship had started too soon if I really was in love with my husband when the marriage split? What? I’ve said before, no one knows what’s going on beyond what we’re willing to tell them so who is anyone to judge whether it’s too soon? It seemed irrelevant that he too had moved on. Was it acceptable for him because he’d quoted he hadn’t loved me for two years? Was I, as the dumped party, meant to wallow in sadness indefinitely over my loss? A lot of people could not understand how I could move on so quickly from an 18 year relationship, my ex included. My closest friends were great, supportive and happy for me. It was the people I didn’t see often that seemed to pass comment. Seriously though….. what am I meant to do? I didn’t “get over it” immediately. Even in my new relationship, remnants of my life before kept creeping in, affecting how I thought, how I felt. I wasn’t over it, but I also felt the need to carry on. I had to carry on. I didn’t want sympathy. Many people didn’t know until months after that our marriage was over. I most certainly was not, a broken woman. Maybe that’s where I went wrong. People wanted to see me lose it because, placed in the same situation themselves, maybe they would. I didn’t. I couldn’t. My family needed my strength. I didn’t know my own strength. My ex happily moved on and introduced his new partner to our son, yet I was the one getting grief over meeting someone? I wasn’t crying in a corner over what I’d lost everyday, because, quite simply, I couldn’t. My son didn’t need to see that. So when I met someone and it felt right, I went with it. My choice, right? The relationship only lasted three months but in that short space of time I gained self confidence and a deep understanding of what I wanted. I couldn’t stay in the past. I couldn’t dwell on what had been, what could’ve been. I wanted to feel wanted and in order to feel that way again I needed to keep moving on. Hence going online to find someone. So, just to clear things up, not that I need to justify myself, before that first new relationship I hadn’t decided to move on. It came my way and I went with it. After that ended I did make a conscious decision to get on with my life, and that’s exactly what I did. That’s all I’m still trying to do. I’d done nothing wrong yet I was being made to feel guilty. What’s all that about? I fail to see what other choice I had. He wasn’t coming back, that was certain. I was SINGLE.

When that first relationship broke up, it hurt, of course, but it’s true I’d been through worse. I faced the expected “is it because it was too soon?”, and statements of “I did think it was too soon” from well meaning acquaintances. But for me, and under my circumstances, it wasn’t too soon. It was necessary in my journey towards making the decision to move on. I enjoyed it, and I bloody well had fun. The ex showed concern over my split but I did not want to talk to him about it. It was none of his concern. Quite frankly it wouldn’t be right. Advice left, right and centre that NOW I should focus on me and my son, people saw that relationship as a misjudgement on my part. As you all know if you’ve read my blogs, I didn’t take their advice. Only I could possibly know what was going on in my head and whether I was ready or not. I wasn’t looking for a guy, any guy, just to fill a void. I wanted a partner. The second one came along in May and I told more people about this one. I didn’t tell the ex but I think reference was made to my partner when we spoke. People couldn’t think any worse of me, right? Wrong. I heard a rumour about myself that I had a different man every week. Laughable…. but it led me to think, so what if I had!? What possible business is it of anyone’s? As long as I wasn’t putting myself or my son in danger, would I not of been entitled to do that, if that was what I wanted? Still, no-one passed comment on how quickly my ex found someone and subsequently moved in with her. I myself accepted that very quickly. What was the difference? Why was it ok for him but not for me? Because he was male? Because he left me? All of a sudden my life seemed to be the talk of the town. Yet all I was doing was getting on with life. It really wasn’t that interesting. It was normal, wasn’t it?

Back when my current relationship started in August, I told no one. Not a single soul until at least three dates in. I didn’t know where it was going but was happy to find out without the input of others. In fact I don’t think I went out of my way to tell many people that I’d split up with the previous one. I just casually dropped it into conversation that no, I wasn’t with that one anymore but it’s ok I’ve been with someone new for a month or so. I can’t seem to win. People still wish to judge. The difference is, after this weeks events, I no longer care. So what happened to make me not care what ANYONE thinks about my time as a single woman since my split? I have let a friend of mine stay at my home recently. One day this week my son came back home to collect his stuff for his subsequent three nights at his Dads. For some reason, he couldn’t get into the house and he made the assumption that my friend was in the house with the keys in the other side. They weren’t. They were out. In actual fact the lock was dodgy, which was worrying. Another incorrect assumption was made by someone else was that it was my boyfriend in the house and that they’d fallen asleep. Jumping to conclusions. Incorrect conclusions. And this annoyed me. My first thought was to get the point across that it wasn’t my boyfriend. I do have one, but this assumption had been based on the wrong person. The reason that riled me so much was because earlier in the week, the first major thing to happen was my boyfriend and I had talked about what we were and where we were going, leaving me feeling confident, happy and secure in my current relationship for the first time since my husband left. I didn’t want silly accusations to ruin that feeling. However, I then got to thinking “why the hell does it matter if it WAS my boyfriend”?. I’m a grown woman. I am actually, contrary to popular belief, ALLOWED to move on. A few months down the line and it could well be my boyfriend in the house.

So, move on is what I will continue to do. Think what you like about me, I hold my head and my morals high. There is no choice but to move on, but you can choose when you do it, and whenever feels right for you is exactly when you should.