I’M A YOUTUBER!

Okay, that’s a lie, but I am a sucker for trying out new things and have made a short from all the itty-bitty film clips Ryan took while we were in Oslo in January.

The camerawork is shaky, I haven’t quite worked out why the image quality is much poorer on YouTube than what it is on my laptop and it is probably interesting to no one except me and Ryan to watch, but I am proud of my first little film/messy montage set to music and thought I would share it with you.

Let me know what you think.

SMALL VICTORIES – JUNE 2016

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Life was a little difficult this time last year. I’ll spare you the details but things weren’t, shall we say, going to plan.

So, in order to cope with life a little more effectively, I devised ‘Small Victories’, in a bid to celebrate the little things and make everything feel a bit more manageable. As things began to fall into place however, I sort of neglected this monthly tradition, but I believe that no matter how well things are going, it’s important to set yourself short term goals and work towards them.

So, although I haven’t pulled one of these together for months now, there’s no better time to rekindle Small Victories than on the 1st June, exactly a year since it’s birth.

Without further ado, here are my goals for June:

1. Find a mirror that we both like

You think I’m joking, but this has (sadly) been a hot topic of conversation between Ryan and I over the past few weeks. I could never have guessed that moving into a place together would mean that we would spending hours mulling over mirrors in IKEA, but lo and behold, this is my reality. Fingers crossed for reflective success in the coming weeks!

2. Book flights

I have a lot to fit in this year in terms of weddings and trips away, but am yet to pay for anything. My aim is to have everything booked by the end of the month.

3. Quit clothes

I genuinely think I have a problem. I can’t stop buying clothes and am struggling to stop. However, with everything else going on this month, I don’t have a choice but to put my card away and spend my cash on something other than Zara tops. This one might be struggle.

4. Get moving

“Life has been pretty hectic lately, so I haven’t exercised much” is a sentence that has been on my lips every day since March, which is funny considering I’ve managed to find time to eat burgers and drink gin. NO MORE EXCUSES. From Monday, I will be back in the gym on a nightly basis and from 3pm this afternoon, I will be back on the yoga train. I am sick of feeling soft and lazy and want to feel good in a bikini come August.

What would you like to achieve this month? Have a think and get back to me. I’d love to know.

THE LOVE

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I was going to end my celebration of love on a list of things I currently adore: from the new season of Girls and fish pie to fat coke and spring sunshine.

But how could I celebrate the most powerful of all the emotions for four weeks running without even mentioning the big fat love of my own life, instead opting for a list of vacuous things I sort of like at the moment? You might find the following post gushing or boastful, but I just think it’s fitting. Because, although I find it cathartic to reminisce, and you probably find it more entertaining reading about my tragic mishaps and bad choices of the past, I think it’s important to also be grateful (and honest) about what really ticks my tock (snacks aside) in the here and now.

So here goes.

I currently share a bed with a man whom I – in equal parts – love dearly but also wish to strangle at almost every hour of the day. He is horrendous at making plans, one of the worst communicators and spends far too much time on Buzzfeed and/or BBC News, whilst I grapple for a comforting spoon or a much needed boob grope. Vegetables are exempt from his diet. He eats a little too loudly when it’s just the two of us. If it’s yellow, he let’s it mellow. He has a terrible – and really quite bizarre – phobia of pregnant women falling over. And we disagree on pretty much every political opinion a person can have.

But he is also kind. Loving. And overwhelmingly gentle for a man of his stature. He loves my freckles. He runs me baths. And he surprises me every single day. He is the sort of guy who springs a (very romantic) Valentine’s surprise on you and accepts that you choose (the not so romantic) Meat Mission as your dinner selection at the end of it. He sleeps in a single bed with you and bares the stiff neck the next day. He understands the importance of a perfectly-timed poached egg. He showers as much as you and knows a good coffee when he tastes one. He is the sort of guy who buys you a powder blue bike (basket included) for your first birthday together (2 months in). He is the type of person you meet in New York a month later while he’s away for business, just because. And he’s the sort of guy who surprises you with a trip to Norway for Christmas, so that you can pretend to be Anna from Frozen for a few days in the snow. He puts up with your singing, adoration (obsession) with Jemima Kirke and your complete inability to deal with a hangover. In fact, he puts up with you. Full stop.

So, right now, for as long as it takes you to read this post, I would like to celebrate the love I have with him. And then, I promise, I’ll get right back to humour, sarcasm and laughing in the face of anyone who takes life (and themselves) a little bit too seriously.

Love can appear out of the most unexpected of scenarios or places. In my case, it was via an app. In your case, it might be through work, via a friend of a friend, or at a very messy house party. But I’m happy to have discovered – after a month of people sharing their experiences of the heart – that, in whichever way love falls into our arms, we are all pretty damn grateful for it. Be it the good times that we can cherish, the heart break that has taught us a valuable lesson or the decisions that we have been forced to consider that only make us stronger. And that’s exactly the way it should be.

So, even if you have to pick pieces of chewed up food out of his bushy beard, share your hair bands with him or suffer from being spooned to the point of suffocation, just let love in. Because the real thing – when you eventually find it – probably (definitely) won’t look the way you think it should. And it will absolutely be better than you ever could have imagined.

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Thank you for reading and celebrating with me this month. And thanks to all those who bore their souls to me and allowed me to share their experiences with my readers.

Keep cuddling, keep smiling and keep being honest with those who have nabbed a piece of your heart, because one day it might be a little too late to let them know just how much they mean to you.

THE FAKE LOVE

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He was really funny.

Like, ‘my cheeks hurt’, ‘I almost just pissed my pants’, funny.

He smoked. He drank gin. He sat at the desk next to me at work.

I loved him. The only problem was, somebody else loved him too. That person was his girlfriend.

For us, there were no meeting of eyes across a packed room and it certainly wasn’t love at first sight. He was in a new city and I was a bit… lost. We got on. A few messages and intense after work drinks later, we kissed.

And that was sort of that.

By ‘that’ I, of course, mean full-blown affair.

But did I care that I was doing the dirty? Not really. I was going at 100mph and enjoying myself too much to notice his relationship falling apart, to care that the guy I was seeing was getting hurt too, to think about the innocent woman who was driving herself mad with suspicion or to realise that what I was doing was wrong. We spent all our time together at work. We spent all our time together outside work (that we could manage). We stayed late almost every evening. We drank together every night. We met up on lazy afternoons in galleries and on park benches. I would do all I could to see him: cancelling plans, avoiding dinner dates. I even called things off with the perfect guy for him.

It was safe to say I was addicted.

But, as with most addictions, they always leave you wanting more.

So, after months of empty promises, disappointment and getting in too deep, I decided to cut and run. There was no future for us. There never really was. And the stronger fix I was chasing was never going to be found. He loved his girlfriend – despite what he did – and I knew that we would never work. As soon as I realised that I was chasing an unachievable dream with a heart that I was sharing with somebody else, it was clear what I had to do. And so I did.

I’ll admit it, I did cry when it was over. In fact, it pretty much ruined Christmas for me. But the fact that I had dusted myself off by New Year and work resumed as normal – sans romance with him – come January 5th? It meant that I never really loved him in the first place.

In retrospect, I can now see that the all too familiar butterflies and beating in my chest that I mistook for symptoms of love, were actually just a byproduct of my anxieties surrounding getting caught. I realise now that it was the adrenalin – not him – that had made me fall in love with the ‘relationship’ we had.

So, to those of you enveloped in the heart racing, blood pumping momentum of an extra marital? Take this as a slap to the face and a shocking realisation that, actually, it probably won’t work out. And even if it does, do you really want to pursue a relationship with one who is so capable of deceiving someone they share a bed with? The beauty of an affair is that you get to realise what you don’t want in a partner and who you don’t want to become. You berate yourself for being so blind and stupid, but it also makes you realise just how powerful desire can be sometimes, how often it can be mistaken for the real deal and how careful you should be in the future.

The biggest lesson I learnt from falling for someone who was in a relationship with someone else? Don’t do it. Real love isn’t a half hearted, part time, sharing platter. It is a full time, kick you in the balls, can’t be without each other attraction that is both one hundred percent uncontrollable and easy at the same time. It is comfort, understanding and support. It is not holding hands under tables and hiding your phone from your partner. With real love, both parties will fight to the death for it. Not make excuses about rent prices and comfort zones.

Take it from me, never give your everything to someone who is giving theirs to someone else.

Two’s company and three’s (nearly always) a crowd.

THE 14TH FEBRUARY

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I love it when people say that they dislike Valentine’s Day. Except I don’t love it. I hate it. Particularly when the same people scrutinising its sentiment also celebrate Christmas, Easter, a Friday or even their uncle’s Bah Mitzvah in the only way they know how: with presents, alcohol and too much food.

So what’s the problem with celebrating love in much the same way?

They complain about shop windows, overpriced goods and the pressure to buy. But the same humans, come December 1st, turn into elves themselves, donning Christmas jumpers, drinking too much whiskey and tucking into overpriced Christmas cheese. And I’m pretty sure they ain’t celebrating Jesus’ birthday. They just enjoy the time of year. They like investing time in family – until Uncle Toby drinks too much wine and tells you about that time he and Aunt Sheila did the dirty in the back of your family car – and they get stuck in.

But they come to a halt on love day.

They grimace, they denounce their involvement and shy away from card buying and gift giving.

But why?

The ‘I show you every day’ sentiment doesn’t wash with me. That’s nice and all and I really appreciate being spooned to the point I think I might suffocate on a nightly basis, but why is it such a hardship for you to show me just that little bit more on one day of the year? Yes, card shops relish in this time of year. But they also exploit our warm hearts at many other times throughout the calendar months; so what’s new? You know as well as I do that we’re exploited by big retailers on pretty much a daily basis, but if you really want to roll with that excuse? Then use your hands and make a card, squeeze them extra tightly or cook them a nice meal. Nobody ever said you had to actually buy something.

I think that hating on Valentine’s Day is a little ‘on trend’ but the question I’m asking is: when did love go out of fashion? In a world that can be bleak and a little bit scary, why wouldn’t we take any opportunity we can to celebrate something positive and tell those who we love that we don’t know where we’d be without them and spoil those who most deserve it?

Basically, I don’t care if it’s not really your thing. In fact, let it glide past you for all I care. But don’t shout your mouth off about how much you hate it, because Valentine’s Day can be whatever you want it to be. Make a crappy card, treat them to a homemade red velvet, sit on the sofa with snacks and a good film or just don’t fart on their leg for the next 24hrs. Whatever love is to you, celebrate that in the best way you can.

The 14th February might not mean much to you, but to someone who needs a little loving (i.e. everybody at one point or other), it can mean a heck of a lot.

Have a good one love bunnies.

OUR LIPS AREN’T SEALED

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Love is one of those things that has the ability to knock you sideways, whilst also being able to seep in silently like a good scent. It can appear as if from out of nowhere, but it can also grow for years before you realise you’ve even been struck by it. Sometimes, you don’t even know you’ve had it until it’s gone. But that’s the thing with love, you never know what form it’s going to take, how to prepare for it or in what way it’s going to shape you. But it does shape you, in one way or another. Every. Single. Time.

And I think that’s something worth talking about.

So, seeing as Valentine’s Day is pretty much on our doorstep, I thought now would be a good time to do just that. Yes, it’s a ‘Hallmark holiday’ and a cheap excuse for retailers to up the price of prosecco and long stemmed roses, but it’s also a chance to celebrate love in a few of its many guises.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be adding a pair of lips or two to this post, just below where you’re reading now. Behind each set, you’ll find a tale about a type of love that somebody has experienced (for better or for worse). These stories have been told by people I know, people I don’t know, people I’ve met and some that I haven’t. And then, of course, some by me. From the dangerous and forbidden to lost and lesbian love, I have it covered. But please, if you feel compelled to write one of your own, send it over. I’ll be posting throughout the month, so there’s still plenty of time to spill the beans.

Although we might not like to admit it, we have all had our fair share of both heart-make and heart-break and I think it’s time we spoke honestly about these experiences in order to both celebrate and laugh in the face of love.

Come inside, our lips are far from sealed.

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THE SUNDAY PAPERS

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It’s the last Sunday of January. If that’s not a reason to celebrate by lazing in bed all day, I don’t know what is. Enjoy my favourite reads from the last 7 days as you do just that.

Female Friendship

The 1 at 25

Ex Texts

Birth Photography

Make Friends

Depression is Real

Babies

What a Bummer

Veil or No Veil?

Changing China

I’m looking at you, mum

Girls Only

Self Help

All About Me

Have a great week.

THE KIDS

Little cherubs.

Great bundles of joy.

The apples of our proverbial eyes.

Sure, all of these things are true, when you don’t have them for longer than an hour at a time. But as soon as you make the mistake of offering two, sore-eyed parents a weekend off from their little ones, this opinion soon changes.

As they wave you off with a wild smile and prosecco already in hand, you should start saying your goodbyes. There’ll be no brunch buying, coffee drinking and gallery hopping for the next two days. Say hello to toilet stops, cartoon binges and game playing. Get used to question answering, knee plastering and “are we there yet?” ringing in your ears. Your weekend slowly disappears before your very eyes. Your time is not your own anymore. You are not number one. Not only is this a wasted weekend but your entire life is changed forever. You call your friends in case you don’t make it out alive and give them all your next of kin, just in case.

No, I’m not being dramatic. It’s just that this weekend confirmed something to me: that even as I edge closer to 30, I am not ready for children yet. Now, don’t get me wrong, these are two of the most pleasant, well-mannered children I have ever met. They don’t moan. They’re easily pleased. They get on with each other. They are intelligent. They like to have fun. Basically, they’re the type of children that those who have given birth to squealing spawns of Satan are jealous of. Almost too good to be true. Which is why I couldn’t understand why it put me off having kids so much.

But I’ve come to realise that, basically, I’m just too selfish.

Prior to the weekend, the subject of kids had come up quite a few times between me and my girlfriends. We ignorantly proclaimed that we could handle kids now that we’re at the ripe old age of 26 and 27. We discussed names. What they would look like. How we would discipline them. We pictured our lives not changing very much (which is just plain stupid). We spoke about how we would carry on as normal, wearing the same clothes and being able to maintain manicures and waxes, just with a baby attached to our boob. No big deal. We wondered what people were complaining about.

All of the parents reading this are probably laughing at our ignorance.

And after this weekend? I’m right there with you.

But above anything else, I am left wondering how people actually do it. Parenthood, I mean.  After those few hours spent looking after little ones, 11pm felt like 4am. I didn’t reapply my lipstick once. I didn’t want a drink, I just wanted my bed. I don’t think Ryan and I spoke for most of the weekend, we just took it in turns to take toilet trips and made eye contact only to say “it’s your turn”. AND THIS WAS ONLY TWO DAYS OF PRETEND PARENTHOOD. Imagine what we’d be like if the stork came and dropped one off prematurely- screwed is the only word I can think to describe it.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the first time I’ve looked after little ones. In actual fact, I have been surrounded by them my entire life. Cousins. Second cousins. Pupils. Family friends. The list goes on. I actually find kids funny, I like the questions they ask and I somehow enjoy their company. But do I want one by my side from now until forever? Hell no. Well, not yet anyway. I guess sixteen rounds on an ice rink, a few messy food stops, a Disney film or two and a ring stuck on a child’s finger saga will do that to you.

So, parents of the world, I’m pretty sure I’ve said it before and I’d like to take this opportunity to say it again, I salute you. You are Gods, Goddesses, angels and miracle-workers. You are magic-makers and dream weavers and to those of you who manage to parent whilst maintaining a functional relationship, applying make up and ensuring that you’re wearing matching underwear each day? You’re not even human.

I’m off to watch Netflix in bed with snacks. Yet another one of my favourite past times that is just impossible with children.

THE SECOND WIND

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Whenever someone asks me whether they should get back with their ex, I, and most likely you will too, dish out the same, woeful, clichéd advice: exes are exes for a reason; if things didn’t work out the first time, then they definitely won’t this time; don’t look back, you’re not going that way, or, my personal favourite: there’s plenty more fish in the sea.

But what about when the person contemplating getting back with their ex is you? What happens when you’re the one nervously muttering to your friends that you’ve been seeing him again and that it might be worth a shot? You once said that you would never talk to him again and now you’re holding his hand. Everyone shifts awkwardly in their seats and you order another round.

It’s at this point that you need to follow your heart and not the eye rolls from those around you. Mainly because they aren’t there and despite the fact that you’re convinced that the world and his wife are judging you and your other half, they aren’t. Unless you’re on Made In Chelsea, in which case yes, they are in fact watching and judging you every Monday at 9.

But it’s fair to say that those around us rarely know what to say in these situations. They’ve dragged us from the depths of break up hell – from nights in with all the food to nights out with all the gin – to being okay again. They want to protect you and are fearful of giving the wrong advice. So they end up not giving you any.

And understandably so.

However, as I perch nervously upon the very first few weeks into a second attempt at a relationship, I can tell you that all I want is advice. Advice on how to navigate a new old relationship. How to act, behave and cope. How to know when enough is enough and how to know if you’ve made the right decision. Each relationship is a personal journey and I most certainly do not have all the answers. But I can talk to you about what I’ve learnt so far.

So here goes.

Firstly, tread carefully. You have both been through a bad break up (more importantly, the same break up) and although you would like to tell yourselves that you are completely over the trials of yesteryear, it is only natural to have clung onto some of the nasties that lurked at the end of your time together.

But turn this into a positive.

Talk, listen and figure out whatever it was that led to your demise. Returning to the scene of the crime means that forgiveness becomes a part of your language and you begin to learn from your mistakes. You will gain a lot from letting things go and even more from working (hard) through others. Do not ignore the issues from before; deal with them head on and then – more importantly – move on.

Secondly, you do not need to know if they have touched another human since you broke up. Unless they’ve bumped uglies with your bestie, you are both here now and that is all that matters.

Thirdly, you can’t un-know each other. If you’re looking for butterflies and awkward kisses, then quit now. You know he picks his nose when your back is turned and he knows you secretly love Zoella. If you’re not okay with certain aspects of each other’s personality, you never will be. Behaving like someone other than yourself might fix things in the short term, but if things are going better now that you’re not being yourself, then it might be time to actually just… find someone else.

And finally, because break ups are so shit, you will inevitably have seen each other at your absolute worst. There are some splits  – I’m sure we have all experienced them – that can make even the coldest of humans feel as though their heart might fall out of their arse holes. And what is likely to happen when we feel like there’s a high chance that one of our vital organs might vacate our rectums? We act crazy. At times a little frenzied. Always a little out of character.

So pull right back.

The throes of a break up can normalise screaming, shouting and name calling. They can endorse bad behaviour, shocking decisions and a great deal of tears and snot, but you need to remember that this is not how humans should behave. Particularly not two humans who are supposed to be in love. So touch base with what you were like before the end and go back to a time when you were respectful, honest and kind to each other. Things might have got bad towards the end, but they were once really good, right? Hark back to the good times and shake off the bad. You’re back together for a reason, so set boundaries for how loud you’re allowed to shout, put coping mechanisms in place for when times are tough and be really honest about what bothers you. Then just sit back and enjoy the ride.

I don’t know the stats on how many couples have been successful at a second wind, but what I do know is that if you feel as though something is worth a shot, then it probably is. Even if it’s just to hammer home that you are actually better suited to someone else.

Who cares if it takes you a couple of goes to get it just right? After all, practise really does make perfect.

Good luck.