Tag Archives: #history

It’s not all s**t.

One in three women will breeze through the menopause. They won’t suffer any side effects or notice any real change to their state of mind or their bodies. They will reach the age of around 65 and other than not having periods any more they will feel just the same as when they were 25 – maybe just a bit slower and a bit more wrinkly (ha-ha!).

One in three women will suffer from menopausal symptoms so extreme that they have to give up their job, face a breakdown in their relationship, lose friends, lose themselves. Some will even commit suicide. Some women are misinformed, uninformed, misdiagnosed, not helped.

One in three women will suffer from mild symptoms; have to take the odd day off; need to talk to their partner about what they are going through; make small adjustments to their life or their routines to enable them to carry on as normally as possible.

No woman can know which of these groups she is going to fall into until the time comes. Some women think that talking about the menopause is pointless – we all have to go through it so just get on with it. I suspect that they haven’t got to this stage yet or they are fortunate enough to find themselves in group 1. Some women think that their attitude to menopause, their healthy lifestyle, body type, genetics, are all reasons why they are not “suffering”. They may well be right. I’m happy for them.

All this week, the BBC are running a series of features on the menopause, talking to various health professionals, women who are going through it and looking at how things need to improve for women in respect of getting advice/treatment/help and promoting more awareness in the workplace. Some of the horror stories I have heard make me feel very grateful. It is proving to be very interesting and is very timely. It’s great to have menopause as a hot topic just as I am starting my own “journey” (awful expression). I promise I am not going to become a bore on the subject, but I am keen to learn as much as possible.

I am lucky that my GP is very well informed. She is a similar age to me, I have been seeing her on and off since T was born and she knows my history with PND. She is sympathetic, understanding, helpful. She has given me great advice, suggested treatment and continues to monitor me. I am also lucky that I have a great boss whose wife has experienced issues and who is very understanding, allowing me to work from home whenever I need/want to; asking if there is anything he can do to help, without suffocating me with kindness. K is learning. I have talked to him about how I feel some days. I’ve given him info to read and he is being the most caring that he has ever been in our 23 years together. More so than when I had the PND. Back then we had 2 small children to contend with and he just didn’t have the capacity to cope with a wife who was suffering. At this stage of our lives, if I don’t feel like cooking, can’t cope with stuff, don’t want to go out, it doesn’t really matter. He is not left holding the baby (literally) while I weep in a corner (truly, that rarely happens; the not cooking, hmm, more so). It’s manageable.

I am lucky. I am glad to be finding my way through this. No, I am not in group 1, but I wouldn’t want to be. Yes, it’s all a bit shit some days when I am foggy and tired and can’t be arsed to do anything but watch TV. Yes, it’s a bit shit that I am more irritable (more than usual – I know, hard to believe isn’t it?) and even more intolerant (again, unbelievable) and find myself needing to leave the room when someone is eating a bag of crisps and licking EVERY SINGLE ONE of their sodding fingers with a very audible slurp in the process – god give me strength. Yes, it’s a bit shit to have to double-check and triple-check everything I do when I am having a foggy day and then apologising for missing stuff despite all the checking.

Yes, I am lucky, even though I am not in group 1. Because hopefully I will have more empathy; be a better friend; appreciate the little things more. It’s not all shit. Some days it’s actually quite exciting. It’s making me try new things, be more daring – I am contemplating a bit of “wild” swimming with a friend as we’ve heard it can do wonders – thanks again to the reporting on the BBC. I am getting fitter because I can’t stop walking; I am way more conscious of my diet because I am determined not to put on any more weight than I can help. I’ve streamlined my wardrobe and now only wear things that I feel OK in. I’m even thinking of getting another tattoo.

It’s not all shit.

I think that may well just become my new motto.

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Happy

I’m starting again. Not a New Years resolution, as we all know I won’t stick to those! I’m starting again with the “happy”‘ I’m not doing it on my blog, I will continue blogging – hopefully more than last year, but for my “happy” I’m keeping a book. Inspired by my lovely little friend, Mrs L, each night I am going to write down one thing that made me happy during the day and at the end of the year I will look back over them and, hopefully, smile.

I might share some of them with you, but more likely I will continue to just witter on about things that make me think.

Happy New Year.

Family clock

Mrs Weasley of the Harry Potter stories has a special clock that tells her if her family members are at school or work; in transit; in the garden; playing quidditch; in mortal peril; lost or at home. I’m pretty sure she’s happiest when they’re all at home.

I don’t have a special family clock, mainly because I’m a muggle, but I do have the Find Friends app and it’s like a lovely safety net which gives me some comfort when one of my lovelies is out.

I’m not obsessive about it; I don’t monitor their every move (I mean, I do have other things to do) but it gives me peace of mind that, should they need me, I can see where they are.

The closer it gets to Christmas Day the more I like them to be close to home. It’s always my goal to keep them safe, but somehow this seems heightened at this time of year.

T went into London this afternoon to the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park with his friend. I was a bit on edge. I’d rather he didn’t go, but have forced myself to not stop him going to places just because I have irrational fears.

He’s been into London quite a few times in the last few months and he’s become pretty confident at finding his way around and he has a self-assuredness that makes him seem older than he is – not in a cocky, big-man way, just self assured. So, I worried less than I did when he was going for the first time but I still worried until I saw him walking towards the car when I picked him up from the station.

K has to go into the office tomorrow, an hour away. When he gets home my little bubble will be complete again and Christmas can begin. The family clock will have all hands pointing to home. Perfect.

Insignificant

Apparently this is the new way of saying that someone is not “popular”. You know how much I hate the use of the word “popular” – who decides? who cares? popular with who? – so this new one has me grumbling.

I do remember being a teenager and knowing that I was never going to be cool enough (or ambitious enough) to be in the “in crowd” and it was harsh and it was not easy and I didn’t enjoy my teenage years from that respect, but this is a whole new level of harshness.

The definition of “insignificant” according to the Oxford English Dictionary – The quality of being too small or unimportant to be worth consideration. 

Does that mean that someone who is “popular” is now classed as “significant”. I haven’t asked. I don’t want to be subjected to the eye-rolling. The only reason I know about the adoption of “insignificant” is because A has been invited to a party by a relatively new friend who used to be “popular”. The friend, L, had an unpleasant time earlier in the year with her old friends and sought shelter with A and her small group of lovely friends. She has fitted in well and makes no bones about how awful her old group were and how much easier it is to be friends with nice people. She’s having a Christmas party and has invited most of their form. A has heard that some people are complaining and suggesting that they probably won’t go because A and her friend AK are going. A and AK are hard working, conscientious students and, naturally, this makes them “insignificant” from the point of view of other students from the more “popular” groups – mostly people that don’t even know her.

In sharp contrast to how I would have reacted if faced with the same situation when I was her age (and even at the age I am now, come to think of it!) she has told them where to go – explained that she has been invited by her friend and has no intention of not going just because they don’t like her. I admire her greatly, but I have reservations – I don’t want her to have an awful time; I want her to go – but I want her to enjoy it; I want her to go and I want her to show all the haters that she is fun and lovely and likes to enjoy herself as much as the next person – but I want it all to work out OK.

I often say that I wouldn’t return to my teenage years even if you offered me a million pounds. But I do wonder if I would make a better stab at it if I went back to the 80’s with all that I know now? One thing I do know for absolute certain – I would NOT want to be a teenager now. It’s no wonder there is such a prevalence of lack of self-confidence, depression and mental health issues when kids are faced with all this stuff that they throw at each other. Insignificant? Unbelievable.

 

Talking to my younger self

Last week I saw Rob Lowe being interviewed on The One Show. I love Rob Lowe, have done ever since St Elmo’s Fire and even more in recent years. He is doing a tour, talking about his life and anecdotes from film sets, etc. He was funny and I think it would be an interesting evening. However, that is not the reason for writing about him. (We all know I won’t bother to look for tickets!) In the course of his touring he asks the audience for questions and responds accordingly. One question that he said he gets asked a lot is “what advice would you give your younger self?”. Not a very inspired question but one that could probably open up a lot of anecdotal material. But he said that he doesn’t answer the question that way. He said that he already talks to his younger self all the time, because he has children – boys. He said that the advice he gives his boys and the way in which he has raised them is what he would have told his younger self if he had the chance. It’s his way of, hopefully, ensuring that they don’t make the mistakes he did, that they live as happy as life as he has and that they grow up to be fine young men.

I love this. I have never though of it that way before. But the more I think about it the more true I think it is. I definitely try to instil in A (and to some extent T, although from a different perspective) a much more positive attitude than I had; more confidence; more sense of who she is; more belief of trusting her instinct, being true to herself. I wasn’t an unhappy child/teenager but I do wish I had worn the skirt, kissed the boy, taken more chances; I would tell myself to be more bold, be less inhibited, be more true to myself. Of course, we can’t change our personalities and some of this stuff can’t be learnt, it’s inherent to who we are. But we can nudge, and encourage and I can see that A is already a much more self-assured teen than I was. Equally, she is lovely, kind, thoughtful (not always to her mum, but I am not here to be her friend) and she is clearly loved by her little squad of friends. She asked a while back for people to send her a comment on her Instagram – something she could write on a piece of paper and put in a jar to open on New Years Day, something funny or a bit of advice or a hope/wish for her. The comments made me cry. The overwhelming theme was one of how caring and supportive she is and how glad they are to have her in their lives. She doesn’t really need my advice or nudging. She’s getting there just fine.

 

Seeking approval

I had an interesting conversation over dinner the other night with the teenagers. K wasn’t there, which has no bearing on the conversation – we chat even if there is only 2 of us eating –  I am just setting the scene.

A started it off when she complained that a couple of boys in her form are always doing polls on Instagram asking if they should buy X expensive jumper or Y expensive jumper. “They’re just showing off that they have loads of money”, was her main gripe. I asked if they thought that their generation are more concerned with money and belongings than perhaps my generation (of old fogeys). They thought that perhaps they were more materialistic, but only because they have it rammed down their throats by social media, the press, companies aiming their products at the youth/teen market.

We talked about their own motives for buying, say, an item of clothing. T is into designer labels but is happy to buy replica/fake/unbranded stuff that looks like the real deal. A is happy with a bag full of cheap stuff from Primark (something that I had no issue with until I saw Stacey Dooley’s documentary about the pollution caused by companies like this) rather than spending the same amount on one item from a higher end shop.

They both agreed that their motives were the same: wearing something that they liked and had spent their own money on made them feel good. I asked T if the designer brand thing was due to wanting others to say “oh nice jumper” or if he just liked the clothes. He said that it was because he liked the clothes, but it was a bonus if someone commented on it. A was the same, saying that she liked to wear a new t shirt or top, for example on Non- uniform days, whereas some people wore the same thing every time “just because it’s a designer brand. I would rather wear something new that cost a fiver than wear the same £50 top all the time”.

We talked about the pitfalls of buying something to make you feel better or to improve your mood, because that’s only temporary and will wear off. Better to be happy with yourself and wear clothes as an extension of who you are. T said that he likes to wear stuff that other lads his age wear, as a kind of way to fit in, but that it wasn’t the main factor. He has a friend who bucks the trend and wears quite retro stuff that most lads his age wouldn’t look at. But no-one gives him a hard time, they respect his choices.

A said she likes to wear what she feels comfortable in and won’t bow to trends. She was very anti the crop top fashion when she was in Year 6 and still tends to wear slightly more conservative clothes compared to some of her peers. I have to say I am not upset about this at all!

We were just clearing the plates away when T hit the nail on the head for me and made me have a glimmer of hope that they are not lost in the sea of consumerism. “I’m not looking for approval from anyone when I buy or wear clothes. I may follow a trend but I don’t care what anyone else thinks. If someone doesn’t like my trainers or my jumper I am not going to stop wearing it. It’s their opinion and they are welcome to it but I will wear what I want to wear.” A wholeheartedly agreed. And this makes me happy.

In the same sort of vein, I’ve had a gripe myself this week. I normally listen to Radio 2 in the morning until lunchtime, but today I had to switch off. In the run up to Children In Need (a fantastic thing, which is to be hugely applauded) Chris Evans runs a series of Auctions for various events and, again, this is to be applauded. But, the bidding on these auctions reaches far beyond anything that the Average Joe could afford and I get a little bit frustrated by it. I know that making money is the aim of this, and I know that the more money they make then all the better for all the charities supported by Children In Need and it is fantastic that there are so many incredibly generous wealthy people out there.

But, the notion that someone could scrape together £10, £20, £30 and call through to bid on one of these “lots” only to hear that the top bidder is in excess of £10,000 must be terribly disheartening. To know that you don’t stand any chance of getting tickets because you do not have the kind of money that is being pledged is quite sad. And that’s not what it is meant to be about. One comment that made me particularly cross was that people should not “try and get tickets on the cheap” and that being tight would come back and bite you on the bum. Is it being tight to pledge an amount that is affordable to you, and that you are willing to give up other things for in order to pledge it, just because your amount is nothing like the huge amounts of the highest bidders? No, it’s just being normal, average and giving what you can. Rant over.

 

 

Likeable Teens

Teens often get a bad press. I have to admit that I have a tendency to feel slightly nervous if faced with a group of lads hanging around by our local shop or walking in town.

But if the lads that come in and out of our house; that we give lifts to and from parties, events etc are anything to go by then I shouldn’t be so quick to scare.

These lads, my son included, are a polite, considerate, friendly lot. They ALWAYS say thanks – sometimes four or five times – for having them over, for the lift. They can be loud, silly, annoying, but they look out for each other, they say hello to me and ask me how I am. They clear up after themselves (not necessarily to my standard but they are 16 year old boys) and generally behave themselves.

T has had a couple of friends round this afternoon. They ordered pizza, they put the box in the recycling. I didn’t really know they were here. They made a point of coming out to the kitchen to say goodbye and thanks for having me.

I’m sure that they all have their moments and their parents probably despair at them as we sometimes do with our two. I’m sure they’re grumpy and grunty and smelly sometimes too (most of the time) but I like them. They’re good lads.