Monday, 20 April 2015

It's a Weighty Issue

My lovely first born has written a blog inspired by my weight battles, you can read it here. This got me thinking about my personal weighty issue and how it has affected not only my life but those who are close to me.

My mother was a wonderful woman who was not only a great friend to me but also full of unconditional love and support ~ however she often spoke her mind without realising the impact of what she said to a young and impressionable mind. Mum had a perfect figure and amazing legs, she was always very conscious of when my body held onto weight and would often remark that I needed to do something about this or that regarding my appearance. She never intended it to be insulting (even when it felt that way) but as useful practical advise. Later, after having children my weight became a long standing issue. Fad/crash diets caused weight loss and short lived happiness about my appearance but every day living and stress meant the weight would inevitably pile back on. This in turn gave rise to comments such as "you could be such a pretty girl if you lost weight" or indirect insults by pointing out attractiveness and slimness of others and then pointed looks as if to say ~ lose some weight!

I have to stress that my husband has NEVER had issues about my weight, he has loved me all shapes and sizes and continues to do so. The only issue he has now is after having his heart attack he attended a talk about cardiac health and how post menopausal women are at risk as they are no longer protected by their hormones and so he feels now we need to address our weight and fitness to ensure we protect ourselves as much as possible and reduce our health risks. 

My daughters also have been nothing but supportive as they have watched me battle with body image and self esteem issues. They love me just as I am in whatever shape that takes. With me, most of my weight gain is due to mental health issues, depression, stress, anxiety and insomnia, comfort eating, not exercising in the past and sheer exhaustion have all played their part.

So, I live my life trying to accept the body I have, to move forward and accept this gift of a body for all it has carried me through and continues to do for me. So for me there will be no more slimming programmes, diet plans, fad diets or dangerous crash diets. Instead I eat when I am hungry, stop when full and eat what my body dictates I need. I exercise regularly, nothing too dramatic but utilise what I have to incorporate both aerobic exercise along with toning and stretching. My goal is NOT to be thin, but to be healthy. I want to be around for my girls for many years yet and so realise that to do that I need to reduce my weight a little and keep myself fit. 

I am anti-body shaming, it's not just overweight people having fat shaming issues ~ but also those who are slimmer, like my youngest daughter, who struggles to gain weight and becomes distressed by those who remark on her thinness (and despairs by those who say how "lucky" she is too).

Late in life I am learning to love the body you have ~ it has not been an easy journey and I wish I had found myself in this place many years earlier.

Thank you Keisha for your blog and support and inspiring me to write this blog.


Tuesday, 14 April 2015

TMI Tag ~ simply ALL about me

My first born Keisha has tagged me to do this blog, you can read her answers here. So, without further ado, here goes...

1. What are you wearing?
My fave vintage 50's American dungarees and white 3/4 sleeve t-shirt and bare feet :)

2. Ever been in love?
Yes, and still am ~ married my soul mate who I have known since I was 4.

3. Ever had a terrible break up?
Yes, all teen break~ups feel like the end of the world when they happen, you cry for a week or so, eat vats of ice~cream, listen to heartbreak records and cry along to them THEN pull yourself together and do it all again when you break up with the next boyfriend!

4. How tall are you?
5 ft 8.5" (the 0.5 is VERY important) I have shrunk though, on my medical records it has my height down as being 5ft 10" when I was 17 years old!

5. How much do you weigh?
Less than when I was carrying to term when pregnant and more than when I was 18.

6. Any tattoos?
Yes, one on the inside of my right wrist. I'm planning on getting more hopefully very soon.

7. Any piercings?
I have first and second piercings in my lobes on both ears, I did have my tragus pierced in my right ear and helix in my left but they both rejected and healed up ~ I also have my nose pierced which is my favourite piercing.

8. OTP?
Not really I don't really get the whole "shipping" thing.

9. Favourite Show?
These vary, I love so many, currently I am watching (and addicted to) 24 ~ dreading when the last series ends! Greys Anatomy is a long standing favourite although  I still very much miss Dexter ~ I loved that series, and Breaking Bad (although couldn't watch it a second time round). Then there is Fargo, the series not film, Sopranos and Supernatural ~ oh and Orange is the New Black too!

10. Favourite Bands?
Rolling Stones, Muse, No Doubt, Queen, MCR, Black Sabbath, and many more which I just can't think of right now.

11. Something you miss?
My mum obviously, still feels as raw now as the day she died. The health of my girls, I so miss not being able to spontaneously go off and do things with them.

12.Favourite Song?
Don't really have one ~ many songs have many meanings for me and so it is too difficult to choose a favourite.

13. How old are you?
45 ~ although not for much longer, I will be 46 in May!

14. Zodiac sign?

15. Qualities you look for in a partner?
Someone who accepts me for who I am, someone I can be 100% myself with and who I can trust ~ plus laughter is hugely important to me, so someone who gels on the humour front too.

16. Favourite quote?
"Never be bullied into silence, Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself."
Harvey Fierstein.

17. Favourite Actor?
I have many, a few are Kiefer Sutherland, Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Judi Dench, Meryl Streep ...

18. Favourite Colour?

19. Loud music or soft?
Depends on the mood ~ soft music if chilling and relaxing, loud if out and about and dancing.

20. Where do you go when you are sad?
I tend to retreat into myself and hide from the outside world, if I lived by the coast I would love to be able to sit on a beach and watch the waves as I find that immensely soothing.

21. How long does it take you to shower?
Not very long at all, I'd say about 5~10 minutes.

22. How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
Again, not long ~ quick shower then throw on some clothes, perhaps 20 minutes tops.

23. Ever been in a physical fight?
With my sister when we were younger ~ she fell down the stairs and I had my head pushed through the banisters breaking 3 rods!

24. Turn on?
Genuineness and humour.

25. Turn off?
Arrogance and ignorance.

26. The reason you started blogging?
As a place to vent and share.

27. Fears?
Harm coming to those I love and spiders, I feckin' loathe spiders!

28. Last thing that made you cry?
Difficult one, I have a memory shorter than a goldfish and I cry whenever someone is kind to me ~ I think it was when Keisha gave me my insomnia journal.

29. Last time you said you loved someone?
Daily, I say it to my husband and daughters all the time.

30.Meaning behind your blogging name?
I'm deemed crazy by my family, I love purple and I am a mama.

31.Last book you read?
I can't remember what I read before picking up my current book as I haven't had time to read for a while.

32. The book you are currently reading?
Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett.

33. Last show you watched?
The BBC news.

34. Last person you talked to?
Keisha just a moment ago.

35. Relationship between you and the person you last texted?
My daughter.

36. Favourite food?
This is a tough one for me as I crave different foods depending on my mood ~ in the Summer all I want to eat is BBQ, salads, fresh bread and seasonal fruit. In Winter I crave roasts and comfort foods like crumble and custard.

37. Place you want to visit?
I would love to return to Pompeii and Rome and take my daughters and husband there, it was a trip I took with my family when I was young and it made a huge impression on me.

38. Last place you were?
Post Office picking up a driving licence application form for Tasha.

39. Do you have a crush?
Now that would be saying!

40. Last time you kissed someone?
Just gave Tara a kiss on the forehead a few moments ago.

41. Last time you were insulted?
I don't know, I have a thick skin and half the time am totally oblivious to insults,

42. Favourite flavour of sweet?

43. What instruments do you play?
Violin very very poorly (Scarborough Fair anyone?) and piano pretty badly too, although did get up to Grade 4 ~ oh and recorder, if you call blowing an instrument to make it squawk "playing".

44. Favourite piece of jewellery?
My St Cuthberts Cross ~ it holds enormous sentimental value.

45. Last sport you played?
Oh my days, that was a long time ago ~ I used to play tennis several times a week about 8 years ago.

46. Last song you sang?
Avenues and Alleyways in the car.

47. Favourite chat up line?
Don't have one, just very grateful when anyone asked!

48. Have you ever used it?
I used to ask boys out because they never asked me ~ I used to just be very blunt and matter of fact, used it last on The Dave and the rest, as they say, is history.

49. Last time you hung out with anyone?
You don't really "hang out" at my age do you?

50. Who should answer these questions next?
Hmm, anyone who wants to I suppose.


Friday, 10 April 2015

Equal Rights

Isn't it crazy that someone can be judged on their sexual orientation or gender identity instead of their personality ~ they are instead defined by a label and prejudice. This angers me greatly and I fully support the work of Amnesty International UK in their work supporting LGBT+ rights for those people tortured, imprisoned or negatively judged because they are just being true to who they are. The article on amnesty international website explains (to those who don't know) what gender identity and sexual orientation means as "Sexual orientation is the way you identify yourself ~ through desires, feelings and sexual activity, whether that's towards people of the same sex or opposite sex from you. Gender identity is rooted less in physical identity and refers to the way you identify with and express yourself in masculine and/or feminine notions of identity. When talking about issues of sexual identity we often use the initialism LGBT+, a shorthand version of the full acronym LGBTTQQIAAP (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, panssexual). But we acknowledge that individuals may define their sexual identity in ways not limited to just these terms ~ and terms to describe sexual orientation and gender identity vary widely from culture to culture."

My eldest daughter "came out" as pansexual to myself and The Dave when she was 14, although she has only recently started dating women openly. She told us she was really nervous about it and so was pleasantly surprised when we just laughed (nicely I hasten to add) with her when she told us because we already knew and all she had done is confirmed our suspicions. To be honest we have absolutely no issue with her dating women, she feels more comfortable with them and is happy which in turn makes us happy. She explained to us that she loves people, not their gender, so may fall in love with either men or women or anybody that identifies as anything in between dependent on the person they are. It's not all that complicated really when you think about it - instead of putting herself in a box of must only date men or only date women she has freed herself and allowing herself to explore more widely and love the person not their gender. She is also questioning her gender identity and so whilst discussing this with me she has taught me about the complex issue of gender. For example, many people prefer gender neutral pronouns such as "they/them/their" which I confess I find difficult to do as it is an alien term for me to use when talking about a single person and not in the plural form. Until recently, I had no knowledge of all the different genders because I'd never come across anyone that didn't fit into the binary. I fully understood gay and straight, and people that got surgery to become the gender that they identify with, but anything in between was foreign to me. I have met so many new people through groups, forums, and support networks online as well as my daughters' social groups that have shown me that there is so much more to the LGBT+ community. There are trans folk that feel intense dysphoria about their bodies and opt to go through hormone therapy and surgeries, and there are trans folk that experience little to no dysphoria and are perfectly content living as their gender without any cosmetic changes, and there are people somewhere in between. Keisha actually did a really simple explanation of these different factors in someone's gender on her blog here. It is important for friends and family to support trans kids through exploration of their gender identity and any treatments or surgery they choose to get so that they can be healthy and happy in their own skin, which I think is any parent would want for their child. We fully support any decision that Keisha makes in regards to her gender or sexuality, and we encourage other parents to do the same.

I have to be perfectly honest with you too, I don't fully understand all the subgroups of gender identity although Keisha does her hardest to patiently try and explain it to me ~ all I know is how you choose to dress, what gender you identify with and who you love is irrelevant to me ~ who you are, your personality, what you do with your life is what matters. I am glad that very slowly the tide is turning and more and more people are standing up in support of those who don't conform to the traditional norm and say "so what" we are all deserving of equal rights. I feel that it is important that when somebody builds up the courage to come out to the world, that you acknowledge and respect that faction of their identity and give them all the acceptance, love, and support that you can provide.

My children as they grow are teaching me so much about understanding what it is like to be different, to not fit into that pigeon hole of a "normal acceptable person". We struggle with mental health, chronic illness and combating other peoples perception of our lives ~ our struggles are not visible, you can't see ME or mental illness and so understanding from outsiders is limited and we are often judged negatively. I used to be anti piercing and tattoos but that too has changed, I love the way my girls look and how they are finding themselves by experimenting with their fashion sense, hair styles and colours, piercings and tattoos. They are all accepting of people no matter what creed, colour, gender identity or sexual orientation ~ all they ask is for you to treat them well they will treat you well in return, It's so very simple, so why can't others see it that way too?

I am hopeful that the tolerance and understanding of the younger generation will help dissipated the ignorance and hate of those who think that anything other than a straight, cisgendered male/female union is wrong, that you should stick with the gender you were born and hope that days of being convicted, imprisoned or tortured for expressing yourself as you truly are will be just a distant memory. 

I am an ally, I support equal rights, shouldn't love be unconditional, affection without limitations, love without conditions ~ don't judge what you don't understand, instead try to learn more about it and be open to change.