Vanity?

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I am a sucker for beauty products. I have, shall we say, a fair few in my cupboard under the basin. Thankfully the Colonel and I do not share this cupboard. Indeed, if we did, he would be allocated two and a half square inches, or if you’re metric, ten square centimetres … or something along those lines. I know not; I am old school, or perhaps just old, hence needing the beauty products.

I see these sumptuous creams in their heavenly packaging with promises to erase lines, cellulite and imperfections and I drool. And from time to buy, when I’m feeling flush, I open my dusty purse and buy them.

And, as the Colonel waits for me to come to bed, I am still applying cleansers, toners, creams and serums as he scowls and harrumphs and the usual, “What are you doing in there?” can be heard through closed doors, occasionally, though not always, with volume.

I must be the only woman in the world to have cycled for twenty six days non-stop from the north to the south of France with the entire Clinique range in her panniers.

Why? Vanity, delusion and a smattering of hope.

And do they make any difference? I know not, but if I didn’t use them, I might look considerably worse and that’s too great a risk to take for a muppet like me.

Yesterday, I allowed myself an afternoon off from writing (and reading your blogs, sorry) and mooched around the beauty counters of Peter Jones in Sloane Square (the posh bit of London). No, of course I don’t live there before you even start to ponder. I’m from Wandsworth and not the smart part.

Peter Jones for the non-UK residents is middle class shopping for the yummy mummies, the rich, the poor-who-want-to-be-rich and now even for those who own a dog and can’t bear to leave ‘Fifi’ at home. This has allowed many a handbag pooch to enter and generally speaking they behave far better than the majority of the children.

It’s a safe haven where the older staff have worked there for donkeys years and the younger ones are doing a ‘season’ whilst on their gap year having finished at private school. Not quite the same as a ‘ski season’, but with equally well-off customers but obviously with less snow.

You can buy everything and anything there, and to be fair, it’s not all expensive. They take into account every type of bank account, healthy or ‘minimalist’ shall we say. (Although if you bank privately, you’ll feel more at home – handing over your Coutts card will give you no better attention from the staff however, but you’ll feel part of ‘the club’).

Sadly, I did my mooching yesterday whilst having a rather empty bank account moment. Of course this is a guaranteed disaster, for as soon as I have no money, everything looks so appealing. When on the other hand I’m feeling flush (a rarity I hasten to add) I can never find anything. C’est la vie.

So I went from one counter to another and foolishly let each and every beauty sales person try their hand and products on my unfortunate face. They rejoiced after having given me a full makeover at the transformation in my skin, spoke of how my eyes were ‘popping’ (WTF) and were craving for me to hand over my purse. I simply looked in the mirror and muttered about how lovely it was and that I should now see how it looked in the outside light, and hurried onto the next counter, begging them to repair the damage. And then the process began all over again.

Eventually I left Peter Jones, empty-handed, but with a face so covered in serums, moisturisers and foundations, that I resembled an oompah loompa who had fallen into an oil slick.

I welcomed the Colonel home who peered at me, frowned and looked faintly fearful as I kissed him hello, but was wise enough to say nothing, probably quite difficult anyway as our lips stuck together with my peachy lip gloss entitled, ‘Glamour Puss’.

That night however, whilst scrubbing my face clean of all the muck, which was quite some feat, there were no questioning words of why I was taking so long. Instead, as I did my usual leap into bed, putting my freezing feet between his legs to try to warm them up (NB The higher up your husbands/partners legs you can get your cold toes the better, but you may meet with resistance as apparently it’s painful in many ways). So with a yelp of apparent agony from the Colonel, he then turned to face me, breathed a sigh of relief, stroked my cheek and whispered, “Hello beautiful.”

Gosh! I think in future I shall stick to au naturel.

Katie xx

Ladies: Are you comfortable without makeup?

Gents: If you’ve read this far, your thoughts please.

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Depression – A Multi-Pronged Attack

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You are in a well. A deep, dark well with murky, warm water up to your thighs. If you look up, you can see a tiny chink of light, but it’s a long, long way away.

You are not alone down there in the well. There are many others. It is not frightening because it’s familiar. You’ve been here before. It almost feels quite comfortable, perhaps even safe.

Around the inner sides of the well are ladders, ropes and the occasional handle of all shapes and sizes. Some are short, some long, some a little broken and some sturdy. But not one of them reaches the whole way up to the light at the very top.

And on every ladder and rope, there are people trying to climb up. There are young people, old people, black, white, rich and poor, all heaving themselves up, slipping down, knocking others off as they fall. It’s utter carnage. So it’s easier here at the bottom in the warm water, because anyway who really knows what dangers lurk up at the top? Life at the top can be a perilous place.

Each ladder, rope and handle represents a lifeline.

First you have to haul your heavy wet body out of the soft, warm water. It is now cold and uncomfortable and your body is heavy with all the water, but you try. You reach for the first lifeline.

The first ladder is marked ‘doctor‘. It is a solid, strong and quite easy to climb up but as you progress, the rungs become narrower. So you need to move one of your feet onto another ladder.

This one is labelled ‘exercise‘ and is a little creaky, but seems to be helping you up a little further. As someone falls beside you, you reach out to the rope with the name ‘social interaction‘ on it. You start to feel enthused and energised and begin to look for other ladders.

There are some little handles on the wall with the name ‘meditation’ on them. You grab them. And all the while you can hear a wonderful voice giving ‘group counselling‘ to encourage and teach you how to reach higher for the ladders.

Yoga, Pilates, medication, therapy, exercise, medication, reading, writing, fresh air, light, gardening, baking, cleaning, cycling, good food … There are dozens of them …

Yes, there are ladders all around, and they are there to be used. All of them. Because one alone will rarely work. Each of us is different and some ladders work better for some whilst different ropes work better for others.

But despite our individual differences and needs, there are two factors that unite us. And they are:

It’s up to us to WANT to climb out of the hole, and it’s up to us to DO the climbing.

Katie x

Have you ever suffered from depression or anxiety and was there a trigger?

Family, Social Media and Selfies … Love ‘em or Hate ‘em

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It seems to me however that every family has their own dusty cupboard full of skeletons. And, within said cupboard, there is usually a black sheep, a matriarch and a faintly sanctimonious do-gooder otherwise known as Joan of Arc. There are sometimes other variations, but usually at least one lurking somewhere in the twisted branches of the family tree.

I am not deluded enough to believe that my family doesn’t have it’s own armoire full of rattling bones, but suffice to say I love it just the way it is. (Indeed, I am probably the “troublesome” one).

But what I loathe more than anything else, more than tax returns and eighteen year old yoga students telling me to find my inner wisdom, are those on social media who try to portray a life of perfection pertaining to themselves and their family. THEY LIE!

I watched a young girl on the tube the other day taking selfie after pouting selfie, photoshopping and then posting them on Snapchat or Instagram or … “whatever”.

Yes, I’m a miserable old goat, but if any of her 500 apparent “friends” were indeed to actually meet her in the flesh for the first time, they might struggle to recognise her. The fleshy-lipped, bosom-heaving beauty with cheekbones as sharp as a knife in her picture, bore no resemblance whatsoever to the girl sitting next to me. The confidence with which she posed, pouted and flicked her hair whilst completely oblivious to the other passengers, made me question as to whether this confidence was borne from the prospect of the inevitable “likes” that she was no doubt imminently due to receive; or from the pleasure that she was getting from making a perfect version of herself. As I said, I am a grumpy old goat.

Sadly I suspect that if I did the same on WordPress, I’d probably have you all in stitches of laughter at me as I tried to stretch out the wrinkles, hold in the muffin tops and hide the bingo wings. As for the bosoms, well, perhaps the answer is simply to do a handstand. I’d have bouffant hair if nothing else, except perhaps a cardiac arrest. The thought of that level of exertion is requiring a little lie down and some ginger nuts which won’t help the muffin tops, alas, I care not.

But, back to those skeletons. I wonder if those who pose for the happy family pictures in the luxurious locations that the majority of us can’t even pronounce, truly believe their own publicity. Is it a form of propaganda? Is it advertising oneself, and if so, for whom?

And when I see beautiful photographs of beaming happy families on a gin palace in the south of France, are they really trying to pretend that their decree nisi hadn’t recently been signed, or that the youngest child hadn’t just been expelled from a rather top-end public school for selling drugs? Why must we attempt to portray perfection?

To be clear, I am not perfect. I am annoyingly bouncy, irritatingly highly strung, scream with gusto if frightened, have dyed my hair which has resulted in a distinctly purple and yellow striped tinge, have lines, wobbly bits and am a grumpy old goat. I am not saying that I love my flaws, but I do the best I can with what I have been given and accept the rest. (Just call me Joan, Joan of Arc). Surely life’s too short to be worrying about what the rest of the world thinks? Isn’t it? As for the hair … there’s some work to be done me-thinks …

Katie

Are you perfect? Flawed? Or perfectly flawed?

Gardening!

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I am not in the same league as some of the gardeners here on WordPress. Frankly, I am in awe of their horticultural prowess.

I do however have a few meagre RHS qualifications and occasionally some Latin names find their way from the dusty crevices of the grey matter. Alas, give me houseplants and I’ll kill them. I will kill them by either forgetting about them or overloving them.

I suspect historically that happened to a few relationships as well. (Obviously I didn’t actually kill the boyfriends, although I’d have liked to have thrown a few plates, vases and saucepans at some; but that might have made me seem a little unhinged, and I’m obviously not that.)

Yesterday however, and back to the gardening, I took the train from London and came (sans mon husband) to visit my parents-in-law. The reason: Obviously to enjoy some time with them, but also to help with their garden.

And garden I did!

Yes, it was chilly. Yes, my nose was a little sniffy and my ears turned attractively scarlet in the freezing cold, but it was glorious! And I thought I was a fair-weather gardener…

Fresh air and exercise has culminated in a tidy garden which has cleared out the cerebral cobwebs and frankly I crave for more. The sense of achievement has left me feeling unattractively smug and faintly pleased with myself. So if anyone wants to put me in my place or their garden needs sorting, you know where I am … well, sort of. Although, there’s limited internet here so if you’re horribly rude I won’t be able to retort quickly back or indeed give you my address. Bother! 😉

Katie x

Do you have green fingers?

I’m a Dog!

closeup photo of adult white and tan american bulldog near wall
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A fellow blogger and friend Chelsea, wrote yesterday about friends and being judgemental. (How to win friends … ) Excellent post and something that I suspect a lot of us can resonate with. I know I did.

Historically I struggled to make friends. I was a loner and I didn’t feel as though I could fit in anywhere. But, at that time I was very unhappy. I was hurt and angry with the world and subconsciously I believe people were picking up on this, which made me more isolated and consequently more unhappy. I was on a little miserable hamster wheel of self-indulgent misery!

And alongside this (as if it wasn’t bad enough), I was extremely judgemental. I was like the bulldog looking over the garden fence and seeing the pretty little cat in it’s pretty little garden with it’s oh so green grass. And I hated that cat and all it’s friends with a venomous loathing and frankly wanted to eat the little blighters for lunch.

Yes, I was indeed a bulldog.

At social events I would stress beforehand, arrive in a jitter, and become the infamous wallflower, desperate for someone to talk to me. I’d leave early and then berate myself for being so unutterably wet. But I simply didn’t think that I had anything worthy to talk about and at that time small talk was an anathema to me. What had happened to the carefree young woman of years ago?

However, a strange thing has happened. I have now got a busy little life and what with one thing and another, my days pass in a blurry fizz of happiness and often exhausting, but well received brain-overload. And having of late been forced into a flurry of social occasions with people from different situations, backgrounds, parts of the world and dare I say it, social and class status (I’m in England, it exists) my entire mindset has changed. People are fascinating, and they all have a story to tell!

Most of the time, people do ask about us, and we ask about them. It’s a rather symbiotic relationship, however fleeting, but I guess that’s just small talk for you.

And sometimes, we’ll meet someone completely fabulous who becomes a true friend. There’s that saying, that if you throw enough muck at the wall, eventually some of it will stick. Like online dating, if you meet enough people, probability states that eventually, you’ll meet someone that you gel with. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not really referring to people as muck, but you get the point I hope. Neither am I promoting multiple dating, bed-hopping or anything quite so insalubrious … again, I hope you get the point.

So perhaps now I’m not quite the bolshy bulldog that I once was. And, because there’s no need, I don’t bother looking over the garden fence (unless the neighbours are having a bbq).

I’m more of a little, green happy, hoppy frog bouncing around in my own little garden pond. Yes indeed … I think I’ve found my inner frog who loves everyone. Well, mostly … I am human after all.

Katie xxx

Are you a grumpy bulldog or a happy, hoppy frog?

Do you like socialising? Or do you find it difficult?

(Have you found your inner frog?)

Courage Mon Brave!

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Once upon a time I was a secretary. I could sit politely with my legs crossed prettily at the ankle and take the minutes of a meeting in shorthand. Sometimes I would even be able to read it back and type it up, mostly however, I’d wail pitifully as I struggled to make out even the names of the people who had attended the meeting. I tried once just making it up, but when the minutes were distributed later to the apparent attendees, it caused much confusion for everyone, especially those who weren’t there.

Oh I tried. I tried to be organised, but my filing systems were less of a system and more of a random putting things, frankly, anywhere. My desk was an extension of my in-tray, papers spilling over until the floor also was used as a workable space. Making mistakes whilst booking hotels and hire cars for my various bosses over the years resulted in many an irate repercussion. Apparently CEOs don’t appreciate sharing twin rooms even if there is a saving in cost, and admittedly I hadn’t thought through how five directors and their luggage could fit into something the size of a Smart car.

Oh the anguish! And I had more jobs than most people have changed their socks, trying desperately to find something, somewhere that I was even marginally good at, least of all enjoyed. How I tried … and yet, that funny little phrase about trying to fit a square peg into a round hole springs to mind.

And now, now I loathe paperwork probably even more than ever before but thankfully I manage to bribe The Colonel to do some of the more arduous tasks on my behalf … well, ok, for me.

My point in all of this, is that I’ve noticed of late that several of my friends here are having a change of direction in their careers and jobs, or at least pondering hard over it. And for that I heartily commend you! Don’t make my mistake, doing a job because it’s what you think you should be doing, because it’s what is expected. I can’t bear little whipper-snappers with no life experience telling me how to have a goal, make a plan, commit and do it, but this old bird has got more experience under her belt in this area, than there are bedbugs in a dodgy hotel room.

Do what makes you happy … and then tell us all about it!

Katie xx

What is your job? Do you love it or like it? Does it just pay the bills or do you bounce out of bed in the morning to get to it?

Exactly How Many Of Us Are Writing a Book?

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It appears to me that there are a plethora of budding authors here on WordPress.

Indeed, some already have beautifully bound books sitting on the shelves. Oh, how we long to be in your shoes! How we dream of being that far along the published line, with our designated writing rooms and a spouse who when visitors appear at the door, whisper that you are not to be disturbed as the genius, the ‘artiste’, is ‘at work’.

Said genius might perhaps be wafting around in a silk negligee and matching robe with a cigarette holder firmly clamped between glossy scarlet lips as she drops ash on the carpet whilst dictating to her loyal and dependable secretary. Of course if the author is of the male variety, one presumes that there would be less of the silk negligee and more of the smoking jacket and cigar, but I’m frightfully broad minded these days, and frankly, anything goes.

Some however have finished writing and are desperately and nervously waiting for the telephone to ring. Waiting in excruciating anticipation for their editors, agents or publishers to gush in delight, gasping with excitement at the marvellously original manuscript that you have sent. Cover to cover they have devoured your novel whilst rubbing their hands in glee at the potential film rights whilst already looking at potential Oscar winners to take the leading role. Oh! Oh! Oh!

And then, there are those of us (and I include myself in this grouping) who are daily, weekly or whenever-we-can-ly tap, tap, tapping away at our computers and iPads.

We live in a never-ending rollercoaster of hopeful optimism and desperate pessimism. We continue with life, with children, families, jobs and dreary mundane problems sucking out the very life within us; whilst in the deepest and dustiest crevices of our grey matter we secretly harbour and nurture a tiny and often fleeting glimmer of hope. A candle light so faint it can barely be seen. And so we continue to write, to throw our vulnerable selves, our mind and souls onto the pages for all to see, just in case, just in case …. we can succeed.

So carry on my friends! And if ever you wish to be seen in a flimsy and quite possibly highly flammable silk negligee whilst holding a cigarette, don’t forget that smoking is terribly bad for you, but frankly I may well come and join you. My tongue is, as ever, firmly lodged in my cheek, however, with all sincerity may I say, let us keep writing, keep working for as well as loving to write, we also love to read each others work. And one day, one day, that little glimmer of hope just might turn into a roaring flame.

Katie xx

Are you writing with a purpose in mind, for pleasure or a combination of the two? I won’t ask if you have a penchant for negligee, but … do tell …