Love for the 80s

I was only 11 in 1989 so I don’t remember the 80s and yet strangely I feel like I do. I feel so much affection for that decade. In my mind I was there but in reality most of what I know and feel about the 80s comes from American 80s movies. Last week we caught up with the rest of the world and joined Netflix. The day after it was movie night in our house, and my choice for a change, but instead of choosing a new release, box office, Bafta winning hit I chose Pretty in Pink. This is one of my absolute all time favourite 80s films (along with Heathers, a film which I can sadly quote most of the words). I didn’t particularly love any of the characters (apart from Iona who was quick witted, warm and changed her style daily), but it drew me in. I remember watching it in my teens with my friends, wearing our pjs and eating malteasers. As I watched it again last week I got that feeling that I can only describe as the feeling of coming home. That feeling of familiarity, security, comfort and happiness, I had to stop myself from smiling all the way through it. I love how a film, like a song, can evoke such strong feelings in people and take you back in time. Even after the film had finished, the soundtrack was going round in my head as I lay awake in bed. 80s films taught me that the clothes were awesome (although I do feel they should stay in the 80s), that hair (women’s and men’s) with that much volume took a lot of mousse, blow drying and hairspray to achieve, that there was a massive divide between rich and poor (in high school anyway), and that everyone drove cars that my husband now calls ‘classics’.

There was so much more to the 80s though, it was a decade of excess and the decade that we finally witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. It was the decade that really paved the way in technology to the world we know today, a world of mobile phones and home computers. We were introduced to such high-tech innovations as 8-bit gaming consoles (personally I could have definitely lived without these!), compact audio systems, mobile phones and portable listening devices. Where would we be today without some of these things, it’s hard to imagine.

It was an outstanding decade for music, the icon that is Madonna came on the scene. Who knew then that she would become one of the great queens of pop. Although Prince released his first album in 1978 it was the 80s that really saw the genius in him that now holds him up there among the greats. Of course how can I not mention Michael Jackson, he could do no wrong back then and we could not have predicted the controversy that would surround him in the future. There were so many great songs, so memorable that they have managed to stand the test of time and are still enjoyed en masse today, songs by Culture Club, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Duran Duran, Human League, Whitney Houston, Wham, the list is endless and no party is complete without a few of their tracks.

The 80s were cool, I hate to use that word but it really needs to be used in this case. I only wish I was old enough to have properly experienced all it’s greatness. I can’t change that so I guess I will just have to keep watching 80s films and listening to my Purple Rain album unless Doc really can create that time machine……..

Take a Pretty Picture

This morning I went on the beginners photography course with the City Photography School (www.cityphotographyschool.com). I took a train to London at ridiculous o’clock in the morning and wondered why I was putting myself through this. I got my camera for Christmas and have taken a few mediocre pictures on auto but any good pictures were really only down to luck. I was hoping this course would help me take my camera off auto and take some pictures I can actually be proud of.

I arrived at Waterloo with my fellow students, all of us looking like camera tourists with our huge SLRs round our neck, eager to see what the morning had in store for us. The sun was shining and London was looking at its best, showing off, asking to be photographed. The tutor, Andy Fallon, took us to our first location and told us a little bit about himself and it was reassuring to know that he is an actual working photographer with plenty of knowledge to share. He was warm, funny and really interesting, not what I was expecting at all to be honest. I was expecting a large booklet of dos and don’ts, but photography is very different to anything else I have ever studied. Instead of a class where you are just told what to do, we were told why we do it and what we hope to gain from those adjustments in our pictures. We discussed apertures and shutter speeds and then used our cameras to take pictures that illustrated how they affected the light and clarity. What struck me was how passionate Andy was not only about photography, but also about helping people get the best picture possible. The 3 hours flew by and I enjoyed every second of the course. The key is to have a direction and purpose for your photography and really think about your subject matter. Don’t just aimlessly take random pictures, think before you snap.

I went on the course hoping to learn how to use my camera, I left wanting to be a photographer. Ok I don’t really want to be a photographer but Andy did inspire in me a desire to take pictures that matter. Pictures that tell a story and have depth, and when I have managed that I will proudly show them to you all. I would totally recommend this course to anyone who has a camera and wants to take pictures a little less ordinary.

Valentines Day – dedicated to my husband

The history books give various reason as to why we celebrate Valentines Day but the cynical side of me feels it is just a total waste of money, that we are being taken advantage of as consumers. We are bombarded with valentines day related advertising showing us trips we should be taking and gifts we should be buying. In our house we don’t buy presents or go out to dinner. When we first met we used to go out for dinner on valentines day but it never felt romantic, to be honest it made me cringe. A restaurant full of couples, it felt really unnatural to me. I absolutely love going out to dinner with my husband, trying new restaurants or firm favourites but the shine seems to be taken off it slightly on valentines day.

However I have to say the other (and slightly larger) side of me, loves the idea of valentines day. Scheduling in a day when you have to take the time out to appreciate each other, especially once you have kids and get bogged down in day to day life, it’s a lovely idea. Maybe we should schedule in this day once a month though instead of only annually.

On valentines day my husband cooks, this is a rare occurrence. We sit at the table (instead of, in front of the TV), we eat, we drink and most importantly, we talk. We talk about our past and plan our future together, we put the world to right. I love valentines day because every year it makes me appreciate what a truly wonderful man I have, without whom I wouldn’t be writing this today. He has supported me in everything and anything I have wanted to do in my life. In the early days of our relationship, I remember him saying to me ‘stick with me and I’ll see you right’, I did and he has. I am so incredibly proud of his achievements and the man he has become. He is quietly confident, a closet geek, very handsome (and it is sickening to say but he seems to be getting even better with age), and he really is a true gentleman. He lets me be me and I hope I let him be him and I think that’s the key. We have changed so much during the time we have known each other but luckily we have changed together.

A few years ago we went to the French alps for a beautiful wedding and a speech made at the wedding has stuck with me ever since. I am very thankful that the writer has given me permission to quote this:
“To digress for one moment into metaphor – think of two trees growing side by side. If they are too close, clinging to one another, whether they know it or not, they begin to compete for the things they need – their leaves fight for scraps of light, their roots for the water and nutrients in the soil. Perhaps one tree will assert its dominance, outgrow the other, and while that tree may seem magnificent, the other is left stunted and permanently in shade. Or, alternatively, the contest might have no clear winner, only serving to prevent both trees from reaching their full potential. However, if there is sufficient distance between the trees, if they can each stand in their own light, if there is room for their branches and boughs to spread out in any direction they choose, you will end up with two strong, healthy trees standing proudly side by side, complementing each other, ready and fit to face the tests of time.” Hearing those words spoken (and written) by Philip Makatrewicz gave me goose bumps. He managed to capture beautifully and so eloquently, what being in a loving relationship should be like without being overly sentimental as is often the case.  In a relationship, we must be given the freedom to pursue our own dreams, not just the dreams we have together.

There have been times in our 11 years together that I have to admit I haven’t always appreciated my husband, we’ve had our ups and downs like most. However, as time goes on I realise more and more how lucky I am, not just because of the way he treats me or because he is an amazing father to our children but mainly just because of the man he is. I love him more than I ever thought possible. Happy Valentines Day my sweetness, I know I am not the easiest person to love at times, and to everyone else, sorry if my declaration of love to my husband made you feel a little bit queasy, I promise it wont happen again!

Out with the new in with the old

I grew up in a beautiful Edwardian house on a leafy road in West London. I didn’t realise how much I loved living in that house until many years after we said goodbye to it. It was home for those important teenage years, holding memories, both good and bad, that will stay with me forever. It was full of old furniture my parents had brought over the years, magnolia walls, expensive exotic patterned wool rugs and soft furnishings of dark red velvet and dark green. I hated most of it and longed for a more modern existence, a world of white Ikea furniture and clean lines, a life without clutter (although my bedroom said otherwise).

I remember having to sit in the back of my dads open top Citroen 2CV holding on to this large old table from one side of London to the other, freezing cold hands gripping on to the table while the wind rushed through the car because the table was too big to fit in the car without the roof down. It was a teenagers hell, I hated being cold, I hated that aqua coloured Citroen 2CV (especially if dad dropped me to school in it) and I hated that table. I guess being a teenager meant I hated a lot of things about life in general. I didn’t understand why we couldn’t just get a new one delivered. Little did I know that years later, I would be coveting all things old, vintage, shabby chic, whatever you choose to call it, I love it. How did hate gradually turn into love without me even being aware of the transition? I wondered whether it was just my age but I really don’t think so. I still have no love for exotic patterned wool rugs and soft furnishings of dark red velvet and dark green so I haven’t turned into my parents just yet.

The first property my husband and I purchased was a fairly new flat, finally I was getting my wish. We filled it entirely with furniture from Ikea “Like everyone else, I had become a slave to the IKEA nesting instinct. If I saw something like clever coffee tables in the shape of a yin and yang, I had to have it. I would flip through catalogs and wonder, “What kind of dining set defines me as a person?”.” (Fight Club, 1998). At first I loved it, I really did.

However, as the years went on I was craving an old property with quirky shaped rooms that were sometimes difficult to fit your furniture into. I wanted a property with character and after that, slowly, without my knowledge or consent, it happened. Over the last couple of years I have been gradually selling all my ‘new’ furniture and replacing it with used old furniture. It all started at a carboot sale. I was by myself selling my junk when I noticed a beautiful old mirror a few cars away. I watched all day and as it was still there when I was packing up, I just had to buy it. It needed a bit of tlc and I won’t pretend that I am any good at the tlc bit but luckily I have a really handy husband. It looked stunning on the fireplace and started my journey of charity shops, eBay, Gumtree etc and we now have some really lovely pieces. Mixing old with new to perfectly complement each other. Suddenly I started to appreciate the workmanship that had gone into every piece. I like the idea that this furniture has had a life before me , that it had witnessed the highs and lows of another family. I hate to admit it but I guess it was my predetermined destiny to love old things, old furniture, old houses and there was only so long I could fight against that.

Can we have it all ?

I have been reflecting on my life recently and the whole concept of having it all. Of course everyone’s interpretation of  ‘having it all’ is very
different but for me it is about having a family, friends, a social life, my own home and a career.  The people I admire are the people who pursue all their passions in life. I want to be a role model for my children and for them to grow up being proud of my achievements.

There are two very opinionated camps in society when it comes to views on motherhood.  There are the ones who believe being a stay at home mum is the most important and fulfilling job in the world and that you should not have children if you intend to go straight back to work. There are also those that feel that they need to go to work in order to fulfil their potential.  Each to their own I say and what I think the most important point  is really that we have the choice and that, as mothers we support each other with our different decisions. Some people don’t have the choice.  I have a friend who is a single mum who wanted to work, got a job but then discovered that she was actually paying two hundred pounds a month to go to work so she had to give up her job. This is sadly the case for many mothers who want to work but simply can’t afford to, the choice is being taken away from them.

Being a stay at home mum is a hugely important job and can be very rewarding. I had the luxury of being able to stay at home but I knew very soon after having my first child, that for me personally is wasn’t enough. It is like my life is a jigsaw puzzle and without some kind of career, something that enabled me to engage my brain occasionally, there was a piece of the puzzle missing and a piece of me missing.

I have to add though that there is also the guilt that comes with being a mother, I felt like I not only gave birth to my son but also a massive guilt complex. Guilt about leaving him, guilt about even wanting to leave him. I felt like I was being judged constantly. I felt like some people had this view of being a stay at home mum as being so easy, days filled with watching tv and going to coffee shops. I must confess that before I had a baby, I had that view and I remember being pregnant at work counting down to the days when I could (in my mind) ‘lounge around’ at home. I admit I did become a loyal customer of Starbucks but that really was for my own sanity. Being a stay at home mum is one of the hardest jobs in the world. On a good day when I was in the park enjoying the sunshine with my baby and some friends, life was good but other days I really struggled. Stuck at home with no adult interaction, a screaming baby (and then worse still, a screaming baby and a toddler getting into everything), three loads of laundry to do, bottles to wash and countless poo filled nappies to clean up, the days felt endless and I longed to be rescued.  I could not imagine spending the next few years of my life like that.  It was hard to admit this to myself at first, it made me feel like a failure as a mother. I adore my two children, they are a part of my soul and life without them doesn’t bear thinking about but in order for them to get the best version of me I must be true to myself.

I started working freelance from home when my son was about six months old. It gave me not only a sense of achievement, but also a sense of freedom. I struggled so much with the idea of having an allowance from my husband. He didn’t give me much, £200 a month, but even that was too much for me. I didn’t have a problem with him paying the house bills but to give me money to get my hair cut, buy myself clothes or go out with my friend etc. made me feel very uncomfortable. I know I was looking after our children and my husband never ever made me feel guilty, it’s not his nature, in fact he was always offering to give me more, but for my own self worth I had to be earning my own money.

I have spent my entire adult life going from job to job, not knowing exactly what I wanted to do, feeling envious of those people who had proper careers mapped out from their early twenties.  I felt like I was drifting aimlessly until last year when I finally found my path and started my journey.  I promised myself that 2014 would be the year when I really pushed myself with my writing and I am overjoyed to say that opportunities are already starting to come my way. I finally feel like I am complete. This is part of the reason that it has been 17 days since my last blog, it seems life has started to get in the way a bit and a blog every week may not be possible but I will endeavour to write here as often as I can.

In a recent interview in Red magazine Liz Earle (business woman and mother of five! ) was asked ‘can you have it all’ and her answer was ‘it depends how much you want’. I think that is the key, in order to have it all you need to be realistic about what having it all means to you and don’t compare yourself to others, ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ – Theodore Roosevelt. Don’t beat yourself up on those days when having it all is just too much to handle.  Don’t try to conform to others interpretations of having it all, always be true to yourself.

Dont wrinkle your soul

With my 36th birthday looming, I have started to think about how I feel about getting one step closer to 40. Am I reaching for the bottle or researching non invasive cosmetic procedures? No. Am I considering being turned into a Vampire in order to stay young for an eternity (yes I’m a massive Twilight fan)? No, I can honestly say I feel absolutely nothing, no fear at all. Ageing is actually one of the very few things in life that I don’t worry about. “Old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative.” ~Maurice Chevalier, New York Times, 9 October 1960

There are all sorts of lotions and potions on the market. They promise to make you look younger, less wrinkled, revitalised and if you want to go down that route, that’s fine, its your choice of course. However, I do feel that these expensive lotions rarely work, although maybe the placebo effect makes them worth their money to some. The majority of the advertising for youth retaining/regaining products is aimed at women, that’s not to say that men don’t have the same issues with age but woman are definitely more heavily targeted. Society and the media place immense pressure on women to stay young. The advertising companies prey on the insecurities that many have about growing old. There is so much emphasis put on trying to halt the ageing process. Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t think there is anything wrong with taking care of yourself, staying healthy and looking after your skin and one day I will definitely, definitely try to do all of those things. However, I just don’t understand what’s wrong with looking your age. Why do some people struggle so much with admitting their true age? Why are we made to feel that youthfulness is the be all and end all? With age comes experience and knowledge so why try so hard to hide that, be proud.

I look at the amazing actresses over the age of 40 like Kate Blanchett, Jodie Foster, Dame Helen Mirren, Dame Judith Dench, Naomi Watts to name but a few. These are strong women, much better role models than many of their younger counterparts who are still making their mistakes as we all do. Unfortunately they make them publicly for the world to see and judge and the pressure is all the more as they are held up to be role models. As girls/young women we feel the pressure to be a certain size, look a certain way, we have to make those all important decisions on where to take our life, school, university, work, marriage, children all those difficult decisions, but as you get older surely its time to take a step back, take in the scenery a little more and worry less about what people think of you. We gain strength as we grow older because we begin to understand what we want and what is important in life to us. When I look at what I have achieved in my 35 years of existence, I feel a small sense of pride and I look forward with excitement to the next 35 years and the adventures it may bring. The one thing I have always admired in the young is not their wrinkle free skin, it’s their enthusiasm for life and a few wrinkles don’t have to stop that. Enthusiasm for life is what keeps us young. “Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.” ~Samuel Ullman

While we grow older on the outside, we don’t have to grow old on the inside. Stay excited, whether it be for that chocolate pudding at the end of the meal or a holiday somewhere exotic, get excited for the things both small and big in your life. I still feel 25 and maybe that is the key, I’m young at heart and young in attitude and I hope to always feel that way. While the age of my exterior may not always match my interior age it doesn’t matter to me in the slightest.

“Everyone is the age of their heart.” ~Guatemalan Proverb

How do I teach my daughter to love the body she has when I don’t love mine…..

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For as long as I can remember I have been fighting a battle with my body. To some that know me this might seem strange because I’m not exactly over weight. I am a size 10, an 8 on a very good day, I know that’s not big but staying that size is not something that comes naturally.  I am just very good at dieting, my weight fluctuates by about 10lbs, I know this because I am an habitual visitor of the scales. I watch the scales, I wait and then as soon as the numbers start to creep up it starts again. When I put my mind to it, I am a gold medalist at dieting and maybe that’s what keeps me going back to it. I was a bit of a chubby kid at times not fat really, just a little bit chubby. It comes from a huge love of food. There is very little I dislike and that means the choice is endless and I wouldn’t change that for the world. As soon as I’ve finished a meal I am planning the next one and I adore eating out at restaurants, trying new things.

When I turned 16 I started to become more aware of my figure and compare it to those around me and that was the beginning of the end. The end of eating without any sense of guilt. I went to an all girls school so it was hard not to compare yourself to every single girl there and I felt that I was one of the larger girls and it bothered me. That is when the cycle of yoyo dieting began. Low fat alternatives, skipping meals,  slim fast, weight watchers, slimming world, diet patches, laxatives and the list goes on. Getting on the scales every day, my mood being ruled by the numbers on the scales. If I could talk to my 18-year-old self I would say ‘you have the best figure of your life right now, enjoy it and stop worrying’.

Until I had a daughter I had been very selfish in my desire to be an unattainable size. However, since having her I’ve been forced to look at how my feelings towards my body image and what I do because of those feelings, could affect my little girl.

How do I bring her up to love the skin she’s in when I can’t do the same myself?

While we know that both mothers and fathers have a massive influence on daughters and sons, it seems that good relationships between mothers and daughters are especially important in helping girls grow up with good eating habits, self-esteem, and a positive body image. Researchers have claimed that mothers who diet are almost twice as likely to have daughters who suffer from an eating disorder. The idea that I could be damaging my daughter breaks my heart. I can try to teach her to love herself but if she sees me constantly punishing myself its bound have an effect on her. Right now she is a wonderful eater, ‘I am still hungry mummy’ is something I hear very often. She loves fruit and veg, will try new food (although she has a habit of just spitting it out if she doesn’t like it). She loves going out to restaurants, just like her mother. She is still at that blissful stage way before the guilt sets in. How do I keep that going because it’s very hard to get back to that stage once you leave it.

I don’t want to be one of those ‘do as I say not as I do’ parents, I know I need to lead by example. It’s so easy to blame the media, stick-thin celebrities and the fashion industry and of course they have a role to play in it but I think most of us need to start by looking much closer to home.

A study published in the Archives of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that teenage girls’ desire to be thin or lose weight was based at least in part on their perception of what their mothers wanted for them. Looking back, growing up I had a mother who was often on some fad diet or another, she was never happy with the way she looked and really lacked in confidence. Such a shame when everyone always has and always will think of her as being an amazing woman. She never ever encouraged me to diet or commented on my eating but I guess without me realising, her feelings towards herself affected me. She didn’t know that what she was doing could affect me but if I don’t change, knowing full well my influence on my daughter, well that makes me a bad parent.

I watch my daughter try on my high heels, pretend to put make up on and copy things I say, so it stands to reason that she will also try on my behaviour and most importantly my relationship with food. It is critical that the environment our children grow up in is nurturing and accepting. Children need parents that make them feel loved and accepted whatever size they are but they also need to show their children that they love and respect themselves. The emphasis should be on keeping active, walking as much as possible and running around exploring.

I’ve found it so hard to finish this post, because while I think I know the answers it’s putting them into practice that’s the hard bit. I must love my body, build a healthy relationship between me and food and in helping myself, I will help my daughter. I will ensure that my children are active (and when they’re active so am I). I know all this but can I do it? Am I strong enough? Yes I believe I am!

Next please…..

I don’t believe I am fickle with regards to my affections but perhaps I am in other aspects of my life. When it comes to hobbys I fall in and out of love pretty quickly.

I have always felt that I should have a hobby and maybe that’s part of the problem, I put too much pressure on myself. I feel it should be something I would be proud of writing on my cv, something interesting. Reading chic lit, shopping (actually mainly window shopping these days), drinking Prosecco and watching tv don’t really cut it do they. Working in recruitment many many moons ago I used to see a few interesting ones like bungee jumping (not if you paid me £100k!!), triathlons (why would you want to punish yourself like that?) and travelling. Now travelling would be great (not the backpacking kind though, I do like my creature comforts) but with 2 young children and limited funds, travelling is not really on the cards right now. I dream of travelling to far away lands (often) but right now that is all it is, a dream and I’m not sure dreaming of travelling really counts.

As I’m a mum working from home I also feel that I am lacking in something interesting to talk about when I meet new people. Once I’ve talked about my kids (I could do this for hours but this could potentially bore the pants off the other person) and my job (which takes all of 3 minutes as it’s not really very interesting), then what am I to talk about? This is when having an interesting hobby would really come in handy.

I’ve always envied those people with a passion and a talent for something. I’ve never had that, actually that’s not strictly true. Dancing was my passion. As a young girl I used to dream of being a dancer, of being on the stage dancing. Ballet, tap, modern, country dancing, I loved it all but a comment by a dance teacher implying that I could never be a dancer because of my weight (which was average), knocked me down.  It sadly made me fall out of love with all things dance related. I was only 10 years old when that happened but I have always remembered. Who knows if I could have fulfilled that passion but very little exercise for a lot of years and a body that’s pretty unhappy with me after having to give birth twice, means that it’s too late for that. The desire for that is lost anyway. I did try tap about 3 years ago, brought the tap shoes, did one term, realised not only had my coordination vanished but my ability to learn and remember routines was non-existent.

So now what?

I briefly tried jewellery making, got all the kit, made one bracelet, got bored. Next was card making, got all the kit, made two cards, got bored. I love the idea of being crafty but in reality I am rubbish at all things crafty, I am certainly no Kirsty Allsopp.  I watched her Christmas show with the delight of a small child and wanted to make everything.  Actually not everything, not the tie dye knickers, they were just wrong, I’m not against tie die knickers in theory but making them from cheap knickers that will probably fall apart after the first wash really put me off. Baring in mind these are meant to be gifts for friends and family I am not sure there is anyone I dislike enough to give them to.  Instead of buying the die I would rather spend a few more pounds on the knickers thanks Kirsty. Anyway, I decided against making anything in the end, probably for the best.

I did Zumba for a couple of months, got bored. Joined the gym for a year……just cancelled my membership. Seems to be some kind of pattern forming……

I enjoy making cakes but my waist line couldn’t really cope with me making them every week. My writing of course is a hobby that I love. I’m totally amazed that over 1,100 people have already read my blog but as I have only been doing this for a couple of months I feel that I am still learning and exploring. That’s part of the fun of it but I do feel that in order to be a good writer you need to be pushing yourself more in life than I currently am.

So, the hobby of 2014 is photography. My husband got me a super duper digital SLR camera for christmas which I have absolutely no idea how to use.  I had a little practice on auto (see my starfish picture) but really want to be able to use it properly to take beautiful pictures.  So, I have taken the plunge and booked into a beginners class (thanks to the bargain price on Groupon). At the end of feb I will spend a morning in a photographic school, learning the basics and will hopefully have some pictures to show you in the future.

Who knows maybe this hobby will stick and if not I will keep searching. Maybe my hobby is starting new hobbys. It’s a bit like the buzz of starting a new relationship, it’s all new, mysterious and exciting. I throw myself whole heartedly into it and then realise that actually I’m just in love with the idea of it and not the reality……

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Dont believe the hype

I know that we haven’t even got Christmas out of the way yet but I am already at that point that I get to every year, where I am starting to dread New Years Eve. People have already started asking me ‘what are you doing New Years Eve?’, my answer is always ‘nothing, I hate New Years Eve’. I guess I don’t really hate it, I just hate the hype that surrounds it. People react like you’re a complete recluse if you decide not to go out and celebrate it. There is so much pressure to be doing something amazing so I would rather opt out of it.

Until having children I had been out every New Years Eve and I can honestly say that I have only had two really memorable New Years Eve nights. One was in my late teens crashing a party of a girl in the year above, it was fantastic, there was drinking (more than my sheltered self had seen before), dancing and a lot of midnight kissing, what more could you want from a NYE party. The second was in Vancouver, spent with my husband and good friends in a restaurant where we stayed all night eating, drinking, dancing and arguing with the waiter (you had to be there but imagine this ‘fun’ waiter bringing us and himself shots which you assume are free but then end up getting a massive bill for). The reasons the second night was so good (apart from the company, food and drink), was that it wasn’t over crowded or completely over priced (apart from those shots of course) and you didn’t have to queue for half an hour to get a drink. There lies the problem with New Years Eve, because if you choose to go out you pay extortionate prices to get in, queue for hours trying to get drinks and spend the night fighting the crowds. Maybe it’s because I am mentally a very old lady but that’s just not my idea of fun. I hate that you can go somewhere regularly but then on NYE suddenly the prices double, I feel like I am being taken for a ride. House parties can be fun but they need to be close to home because I like my own bed and hate long journeys home with drunk people (see my Emetophobia post). So I was glad when I had my children as they gave me the perfect excuse to stay at home, have a lovely meal and some fizz with my husband which might be a normal night in to some but it is a rarity these days due to long working hours. This will be my New Years Eve this year, quite uneventful but a perfect night for me.

New Years day on the other hand I love, I love the hope that comes with it, of a new beginning. The idea that you can start again, do things differently, be a better version of yourself and work towards something important. I don’t really tend to make New Years resolutions anymore but a report I found (source: University of Scranton , Journal of Clinical Psychology published 13.12.2012), stated that these were the top ten resolutions:

1- Lose Weight (I make this promise to myself most weeks)

2-Get Organised (the story of my life……lists, lists and more lists!)

3-Spend Less, Save Money (all good in theory but when there’s a dress you just have to have…….)

4-Enjoy Life to the Fullest (I try in my own way)

5-Stay Fit and Healthy (tried that, it didn’t really work)

6-Learn Something Exciting (I like this one a lot, I should try this one)

7-Quit Smoking (tick, did that in 2007)

8-Help Others in their Dreams (I don’t really believe that this is in the top ten and not sure how I can help others with their dreams but I could try)

9-Fall in Love (tick)

10-Spend More Time with Family (I am constantly trying with this one)

This means that most people reading this will be trying to do one of those things in 2014. Good luck, I really hope you achieve them but if you don’t well don’t be too hard on yourself there’s always next year.

I prefer to make a plan, I love making plans (plans, lists, oh and spreadsheets, yes I am just the epitome of fun) and in 2014 the plan is to buy a house, start trying to take beautiful pictures (Santa let it slip that he’d heard my subtle hints for a new proper camera) and continue writing, who knows maybe one day someone will like my writing enough to help me make a career out of it……a girl can dream.

I really hope that 2014 is the year that things get better for some of the people in my life. See you on the other side friends, Happy New Year!!!

‘The best thing about being in my 30s is that I did all my stupid sh*t before the Internet’

‘The best thing about being in my 30s is that I did all my stupid sh*t before the Internet’.

I recently shared this e-card on Facebook and it seemed to resonate with a lot of my friends. Of course the Internet was around in my late teens, early twenties (I mention that period as I guess that was when I got up to the most mischief) but it was really only something we used for research for assignments.

The most significant change has been brought about by the introduction of social media. In my youth, if you had one of those nights where you woke up on someones sofa wondering what had happened the night before, your friends would fill you in on the details, you would have a few days of shame at School/University and if you were really unlucky there might be a few badly taken photos from a disposable camera. Now however, these poor kids have it spread all over Facebook , Twitter and Instagram. The comments that may have happened behind your back before are now written down for all to see. The embarrassing crushes, boyfriends, drunken nights and outfits are there for all to see. All these thing that enable the bullies out there.

I’m sure we’ve all done things in our past that we wouldn’t necessarily want our future bosses to see but the young now either don’t think that far ahead or don’t have control over others around them. I’m not saying we were any more sensible, we just had the luxury of growing up and making our mistakes privately. It’s like every teenager is a celebrity, growing up in the spotlight which makes people feel like they have the right to comment on their appearance and actions. We don’t want a society of Lindsey Lohans and Britneys do we?

There is so much pressure on them to be wearing the ‘right’ clothes and hanging out at the ‘right’ places. It’s alway been there, but it is so much harder now as they need to be proving it. Gone are the days of exaggerated stories of nights out (you know those tales of drinking 10 pints of cider when in reality you were sick after 3), now they are having to live those exaggerated nights and its being filmed as proof.

Having two young children I’m certainly worried, of course you think the solution is simple, don’t let them on these sites but do I want my children to be ridiculed for being the only ones amongst their peers that don’t have a Facebook or Twitter account? I will insist on setting their privacy settings and having access to their accounts but I will have to let go of the reigns at some stage (is 35 acceptable?). It’s my job to give them self worth, confidence and educate them on privacy but I’m not sure what else I can do, short of home schooling and locking them in the house till they’re 18…..

 

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