I don’t know about you but …

I'm feeling 22

So yesterday I spent my last day ever as a 21 year old. I can now look back and go ‘oh, I wish I was 21 again’ like all my middle aged co-workers who are slightly nostalgic with a hint of jealous when the subject of my age comes up.

So what did being 21 have to offer me? I can tell you that 21 has really been a year of learning rather than doing. In the three years previous I finished high school, moved to the UK, met Matt, got engaged and did a lot of travelling in between. But this year, having slowed down I’ve had the opportunity to appreciate the small comforts that come with being still, content.

In the beginning I found this challenging as my wanderlust and natural aversion to sitting still started to niggle at me while I worked day to day in my life. But slowly I began to accept that for this time, in this season, I am here. In this job, with this man, in our house and in my packaging.

After I had come to accept these things, real change started to happen as I became more receptive and accepting to the moving forces around me. I reacted differently to change. Apologised more often. Exercised patience and forgiveness beyond the capacity I believed I had. Sought answers to difficult issues. Accepted situations I didn’t think I could and even learned to like people I didn’t think I would.

And now as I write this I kind of realise that you don’t have to going anywhere to get somewhere. I can see now that this year I have gotten to a higher place of self-assuredness + worldliness because I chose to grow. At 21, every day I chose to walk my own path and own it like a mother bitch.

So although I had a really kick ass year doing kick ass things I admit that the best thing that happened to me during the year of 21 was personal growth. And I hope I can look back at 22 through the same coloured glasses … jokes, I’m getting married next week so no doubt that’s going to be next years’ highlight.

Hollatcha gurl.

P.s. can’t stop singing this G-damn song!

The one article every 20-something year old MUST read

I am so about to get into a mini bitch fit. This week alone I have seen various friends sharing and liking articles from Buzzfeed and Thought Catalog that are peppered with 20-something year old women embarking on risqué activities like flashing their breasts in bikinis + jumping fences that say ‘no trespassing’. The article title is always something similar; ‘why 20-something women need to stop thinking like 30-something women, ‘Relax – you’re only 25′ and my personal favourite, ’10 reasons why getting married at 22 is like leaving the party at 9pm.’

It doesn’t take a genius to realise why these kind of articles get the bee under my bonnet buzzing. I always click on them because I would like to think I could relate to them being a 21 but I always get half way through and notice that they are geared towards two things; painting a carefree picture of 20-something year old life and avoiding monogamy like the plague.

One of the articles I read was just a giant list of why you shouldn’t even THINK about being in a relationship with someone when you are in your twenties because being in your twenties is for having fun and fun only. And everyone knows that being with someone means you aren’t having fun.

I feel these articles are created to make some girls feel good about their existence while victimising and ridiculing others. And it worked because for a split second it made me think; gosh I seem to have my shit pretty well put together … maybe I am missing out?

You see the effect of reading shit like this creates? It has the potential to be very destructive. For both types of women who read them. If you don’t have your shit together and are wandering around aimlessly these articles might serve as a reminder that you are doing everything you should be because you are 20-something. You don’t need to think of the future, have career prospects and you most definitely don’t need to be in a relationship because you should be sleeping around and binge drinking yourself into oblivion every Thursday night.

On the flip side if you do seem to be on a path that seems a little older than your age because life handed you lemons and you grabbed hold of them this article serves as a reminder that you might be too grown and out of touch for your age. You are missing out on all the fun because you are getting married and leaving the party at 9 whiles the rest of us just settling in.

I mean come on! Life isn’t made from a cookie-cutter and not everyone needs to have identical experiences in order to have lived. You may have travelled to Europe, got a degree, jumped out of a plane, paid into your pension, entered a wet T shirt competition, got engaged, bought a car, gone backpacking, moved out of home, discovered you were gay, started a cake business … all this stuff isn’t on some checklist that’s being held in the heavens for when you pass on into the next life. God isn’t going to be waiting for you at the pearly gates to tell you that you can’t come in because you didn’t tick donkey riding in Peru off ‘the life list.’

And doing any of these things out of the sociably acceptable sequence does not mean you are a success or failure. It means you did life the way it came to you. I mean, I was fortunate to have met Matt when I was 20 and I sure as hell wasn’t going to lose him because I was young and thought there was more to be done or had or tasted in the world.

These articles may seem harmless on the surface but they are just another way in which society is imparting its voice on who, what, when, where and how you should be. And in reading them we are choosing to accept these imposed rules.

I’m definitely not saying don’t read them, not by a long stretch. I know that it’s nice to feel connected particularly when you haven’t got your shit together. To know that perhaps someone out there doesn’t too and it’s okay and you’re not off track. I’m just saying, don’t mold your life around these ideals. You are a human and someone else’s idea of living doesn’t have to be your own.

If you want to go on safari and live in a tent for the rest of your life … do it.

If you want to live in your home town & marry your high school sweet heart … do it.

If you want to dress up as the opposite sex and sing ‘I shot the sheriff’ … do it.
(please, I will pay to see.)

The only thing I ask is that you don’t ever put someone down for not walking in your shoes.

Whatever you do, don’t fire me.

People get fired for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes they make sense and sometimes they don’t. One thing is always true. We aren’t wanted anymore. For whatever the reason, we aren’t wanted anymore. Let that sink in; you aren’t wanted anymore. “But I still want to be there.” It doesn’t matter. You aren’t wanted there anymore. Shake the dust off and walk on. What’s the dust? Resentment, anger, hostility, regret, bitterness…shake off these dust particles. They’re heavier than you think. They’re also unsightly. People look and wonder why you’re covered in dirt, not wanting it to rub off on them. Shake it off. Scrub it off. Do whatever is necessary to get rid of it. – David Horsewood.

It sounds punchy and very hard hitting but the message isn’t to wound or cause distress. It’s almost a little bit of tough love to get you on your next step in life quickly. So you can look back and say, ‘well … that was a blessing in disguise.’

I’ve been thinking about how I would cope with this kind of rejection and long story short, I wouldn’t. Being a people pleaser by nature, if I’ve invested even an inkling of effort into a relationship or job prospect and it doesn’t work the way I want, I feel deflated and crushed.

***

Side note to highlight the extent of my people pleasing
When I first moved to London I applied for what I thought was a reception job at a (bullshit) company called DS Global. After going through the three step interview process which involved scouring the streets and knocking on people’s doors asking for charity sign ups, I didn’t feel comfortable walking away. I knew I didn’t want this job and I felt duped that they would advertise it as a 9-5 desk job but I really wanted to prove to the interviewer that I was the right candidate. My competitive nature also contributed to me completing the interview course and getting the job but that main reason as to why I didn’t walk away on the first day was because I wanted to show I was the one. The one person they were looking to hire and that I could fit any mold that was presented to me. I quit 3 days later.

***

The idea that someone in the world wouldn’t want me for my skills, personality, talent or time is a really distressing concept that just doesn’t sit well with me. And it doesn’t extend to people either.

Fiancé and I went to Lady Dinah’s Cat Cafe to sip tea and stroke the cats one Friday afternoon. I was so excited because I had been waiting for one of these cafes to open since they first became ‘a thing’ in Japan and the day had finally arrived. After sitting patiently for half an hour it was clear the cats weren’t interested in me or sitting on my lap. The rejection completely killed me and drove me to thinking all sorts of crazy things like, ‘why don’t they love me? You’d think they could just pretend to like me. I thought I would be a great crazy cat lady? Great, now I can’t even get that cat Matt promised me when we move to Australia because it won’t even like me. Maybe it’s my perfume? I think it’s too warm in here so they don’t want to be near anyone … no it’s definitely my perfume.’

See! I can’t even cope with the rejection of a cat. Even reliving that experience is making me feel tetchy.

When I saw this quote it really made me think about what I would do if I was ever sacked. I’d like to say I would be able to cope with like a rational adult but the reality is (even after hearing this quote) I know I wouldn’t. I can see it now. I would start out frantically trying to explain all the reasons this was a bad move by the company in hushed tones. Throw a public fit. Smash some things. Lose a shoe. Accept that I’ve burn all my bridges. Emotional eat my way to a size 32. Live the rest of my life with seething aggression towards that company and the people who fired me.

I’m a mess .. the questions is, are you?

Don’t ever trust The Voice within – unless it truly loves you.

There’s cake in the office. It’s placed down beside me and one of my colleagues who is gluten and dairy intolerant. Judging from the rich smells exuding from said cake as everyone passes by it has gluten and dairy in it.

I’ve just eaten so I don’t fancy cake but that doesn’t stop my mouth salivating at the thought of taking a piece … or four. And then Voice kicks in and starts questioning me, why do you want the cake? I don’t. What are you feeling? Not much, I am full and contented. I’m about a 6 on the hunger scale so I’m good. Then why are you thinking about the cake? Because everyone is eating it. Am missing out on something … No, I’m not. It’s the same Sainsbury’s cake they bought in for Mark’s birthday. I’m good, I am not missing out because I’ve had that cake before.

I’m resolved. I don’t want cake.

Casually four or five people start swarming around the cake like locusts ready to feast. Idle chit chat ensues while they cut off a slab one by one and return to their desks. You can hear the odd mutter, ‘Mmmmm just what I needed’ and ‘this would go perfect with a cup of tea.’

And then The Voice starts again.

Are you sure you don’t want some cake? I’ve heard it’s delicious. No, no thank you. Nothing has changed since you first asked me. But Jess said it would go well with a cup of tea and you’re drinking a cup of tea? Yes, I heard her say that but this is green tea and I know chocolate cake doesn’t go well with green tea. Can you please be quiet I am trying to work and I don’t want to eat.

‘Hmmpphhh,’ says The Voice.

At this point I’m not fighting The Voice. This is what I would call a conversation between The Voice and myself (or my stomach). This isn’t like how it used to be. It used to be demanding and restrictive. The Voice now has my best interests at heart but is still primitive in the fact that she hoards food for times of famine and she genuinely believes that any time I am not eating is a time of famine.

And then everything changes.

One of the men in his Capri pants strolls over, takes a piece of the cake and says to me, ‘Isn’t this tempting? Aren’t you on a diet? I suppose you can’t have this?’ And right in that instant, I want cake.

Not because I fancy the cake. Not because The Voice convinced me it could go well with my tea. But because someone in the office came over and opened their big mouth. They ASSUMED I was on a diet and they ASSUMED I would be tempted by something so sinful and off limits.

I can feel my pride and ego burst through my conscious mind and flare up like fireworks on bonfire night because I am NOT on a diet, and I can eat the cake if I choose to!

Suddenly the once calmed Voice is in protest and wants to rebel against this persons passing comment because somewhere in the comment it believes that person was judging it. The Voice believes that this person wasn’t being considerate or concerning but rather judgemental and suggestive that I should be on a diet.

‘How dare he,’ my she shrieks. ‘I will show him, Marnie hand me the cake.’

At this point the stomach, although a little miffed is still in protest against eating.

‘Common, there’s no space in here. Gimme a break!’ he sighs.

‘A break? A break?! Didn’t you just hear him? He said you are fat and intolerable and should be on a diet. He said you can’t have cake! He said you shouldn’t have cake! GIVE ME THE CAKE BECAUSE I WANT TO PROVE THIS FUCKER WRONG,’ cries The Voice.

*****

HOLD UP!

Skip to 1:50 in this video

If you go back for a second and re read what was said you might notice a lot of what I heard was not actually said.

******

I can now see what’s happening so before it goes any further I ask The Voice a few questions.

What are you feeling? Angry, frustrated, annoyed, challenged, fat, unworthy, judged.
Why are you feeling that? Because I’ve changed and someone made judgements on my PREVIOUS eating habits. I did used to be on a diet and I did used to turn my nose up to treats in a bid to ‘be good’ but I don’t do that anymore!
Did this person know you had changed your eating habits? I don’t know. It’s possible they didn’t.
Did this person offend you? Yes.
Do you think they meant to offend you? No.
Do you think you took offense when it wasn’t intended? Maybe.

The Voice knows now that it is in the wrong.

For a second it was propelled back to when I was 12 standing on the patio eating sour cream and chive crisps while my Dad and his friend are having a beer. After a few large handfuls from the bowl my Dad stops mid conversation to focus on me. He says, ‘Don’t you think you’ve had enough?’

I immediately reply, ‘No!’ and continue to shove crisps in my mouth except now I am not doing it because I am hungry and enjoying the crisps. I am eating out of rebellion and embarrassment at what my Dad has just asked. I was doing it because The Voice took offense to a comment that was never meant to be offensive had mirrored what I thought about myself in Dad’s words.

Nine years later and I know that my Dad would never have asked that question if he knew how much it would would have stuck with me. If he had known what it was like to be a young girl dealing with immense body issues and that one small statement could have the power to control his little girl for many years after. But the blame doesn’t lie with him and it certainly doesn’t lie with the man who had just asked a question about cake.

The blame lies with The Voice that never got past being an uncomfortable teenager who felt judged by her Dad. The same voice that spurs my ego to life like a peacock presenting its best tail feathers any time it feels challenged or judged. The Voice that still mirrors what it truly believes about me and my tendencies in the things other people say.

If The Voice truly loved me it may have heard my Dad say, ‘Don’t you think you’ve had enough? Because your mother is cooking your favourite dinner and I know you won’t want to miss out.’ It might have also interpreted my co-workers comments to mean, ‘Geez sitting next to the cake area all the time would be so tempting if I was on a diet. I know I wouldn’t have your willpower.’

A week ago in my old food restricting ways I would have been able to see my reflection in this one small comment and I would have let it completely destroy me. The Voice would have given in the instant it felt challenged and eaten out of spite. I am sure the longing for more than one slice to numb the feeling of unworthiness would have grown too strong and I am sure it would have lead into a fully fledged binge. But that would have been me then, before I stopped restricting and counting calories and basing my worth around the numbers on the scale.

The me now has given up these things and is learning that past experiences really do have the power to affect you but only you can give them the power to control you. I feel so relieved to know this is one focal point in which I can work on to become one with The Voice. After all, my biggest critic (and I’m sure the same applies to you) is my own Voice. The one that acts on primitive instincts and tries to shield my feelings like an older brother to a sister.

In this instance I think all I need to remember is, at the end of the day people aren’t judging me half as much as I think they are and no one really cares if you eat cake.

beautifulmirror

NOTE- If someone is judging your food choices its either because they are concerned for your health or a fatist/health extremist who secretly despises you for eating the things they restrict in their diet.

WE WENT TO BONNIE DOON!! (persistance pays people)

So the man and I went on a city break over the Easter long weekend to a little town called Lowestoft and I’ve been super slack at reporting back about it. Never fear though because this post is video heavy so grab your earphones, gather round the campfire and have a watch. Note – take a look at this previous post for a little bit of background.

Also unless you’ve seen The Castle you just won’t get it and you’re a loser.

Bonnie Doon – Part 1
I’ll set the scene for you. It’s 5am, it’s chilly, we’ve just gotten in the car and Matt is fiddling with the sat nav to get us on our way. Let the games begin …

Bonnie Doon – Part 2
Now the road trip is successfully underway it’s time to settle into some of the classics. Please excuse my sweary man, he is easily provoked when he’s tired. Bless.

Bonnie Doon – Part 3 (pub edition)
Some may argue that the chanting can stop now we’ve reached our destination … but I disagree. Three pints deep and it’s time to turn on my charm.

Didn’t work ….

Bonnie Donne – Interlude
It’s fair to say even I am annoyed by my own voice after watching those videos so here’s a quick interlude. We’re pretty hammered and thought it would be a good idea to get snacks and steal shot glasses.

Bonnie Doon – Part 4
Pretty boy is nursing a headache after a yesterday’s antics and isn’t too pleased about going horse riding on the beach. Time to cheer him up.

Bonnie Doon – Part 5
And this is the moment you have all been waiting for ladies and gents. I never though it would happen but after four days of road tripping and sight seeing we finally made it to Bonnie Doon.

And that’s about as exciting as our trip to Lowestoft was. Oh and we saw loads of baby lambs and bahhhhh’d at them for half an hour but that’s another post for an other day.

Did you know …

Did you know that the best time to give a compliment is the exact time you think it?
I stole that quote from the movie Don Hemingway but that’s not the point.

When was the last time you thought something positive about a beautiful woman who walked past or a man wearing a super sharp suit and said something to them? Did the urge to stop them and say, ‘Red is really your colour. You look fantastic!’ prevail or did you saunter back into your own life letting them and that moment pass?

I can tell you that yesterday I handed out 4 sincere compliments. 2 were to people on the street, 1 was to a colleague and 1 was on Facebook (don’t know if it still counts.) Not because I am a saint but because I would like to think that I could, only for a moment, build a connection between someone who doesn’t and may never know my name. Have a moment with them that is completely selfless. A moment I created in an act of unselfish service to make a stranger feel better. Feel important. Feel valuable and noticed. Isn’t that what we all want? To be noticed …

Well here’s the kicker, if you want to be noticed you’ve got to notice.
Start with seeing the big things like the height of buildings. The sky. The sound of a passing lorry. And work yourself into seeing the small things like the wrinkles that have formed on your parents faces since you’ve been away. The flick of a woman’s hair. The cackle of your co workers laugh.

From there you might even be compelled to FEEL things. The sting of a chilly autumn wind. The legs of your trousers on your skin. Your fingers tapping on a keyboard. The thrum of a heartbeat as you drift off to sleep. What is it to physically feel something?

Once you can see and feel, maybe just maybe the sensory blinders that had been blocking you from noticing life would lift and you would be able to start to appreciate little things. And everything would become magnified as if you had been in a freak accident and you now have super hero noticing powers. Not in a noisy sense though. Not as if you were on ecstasy and everything is louder and brighter and beautiful – but as if you just had the power to hone in on things you knew existed but never really noticed.

Once you can really see and feel and appreciate everyone and everything in its essence and being – wouldn’t you stop feeling so ashamed or nervous about shooting a compliment to a deserving stranger? Wouldn’t you feel compelled to notice the beauty of their skin, perfume, eyes, trouser suit, pocket square and let them know
‘Hey you riding that hotdog. I notice you and I think what you got going on is impeccable.’

Could it be possible that the steps to being noticed is to feel, see, appreciate, learn to notice and then, and only then be noticed yourself? Wouldn’t your appreciation for yourself allow you to inadvertently be noticed by yourself? I don’t know, maybe I am just rambling … my initial blog post was going to be about the correlation between Nutella cupcakes and the Big Bang Theory so I guess you could say I am rambling.

#foodforthought #foodformouth #foodforuniverse?

pauladeen