Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Expectations and realisations

I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only girl who dreamt of what her wedding would be like. Flicking through magazines admiring dresses and choosing themes, picturing the perfect Prince Charming waiting at the end of the aisle. 

I thought that marriage would provide me with everything I wanted in a partner; strength, stability, unity and respect. In that I would provide them with the aspects they needed from me; strength, love, respect, a mother for their children, a woman for their home, a wife for the other stuff...

But it doesn't work like that.

I thought I would find and marry a man who would share my dreams, understand my worries and love every fibre of our intertwined lives, whichever direction it went in. We would become a collective mind, knowing what the other needed, wanted and expected (in a respectful manner-of course) and react accordingly. 

We would smile, a lot. 

We would dance at our wedding in such perfect unison that the world would think we were one. 

My marriage has turned out different from this. I find myself feeling incredibly lonely and on the very few days we spend together between the 14 hour shifts and renovating the house (seperately) we argue about the dishes, or how I do the washing, or how he screws up my ironing. 

Our intertwined lives aren't sparkly ribbons of synchronised energy moving through time and space and the awesomeness that is completely achievable by any well matched couple - married or not. 

I was wrong and I finally understand why. 

Marriage does not a perfect partner make. Individuals, pre-marriage, are not changeable creatures. We are what we are and change is innevitable and impossible all at the same time. And that's when you realise you spend more time smiling with other people. 

I know I was wrong to want my partner to change, I should love him for who he is. But they key to any success is the positivity behind it and there was no positivity in our relationship before we were married, so why was I foolish enough to think there would be now? Despite his promises and vows, he never has changed, just become more moody and demanding, more unhappy (though he will always deny it).

Ultimately any relationship is a hard fought battle of personalities, wills and strengths. All aspects of the individuals that when used correctly, can create a perfect partnership. 

Despite always wanting to be able to define my identity as a wife, I cringed at the very moment the registrar announced us as Mr. and Mrs. Ball. I felt like my identity had suddenly been ripped away from me. The years of honing myself as Eleanor Dalton were laid to waste and now I had to be Mrs. Ball, a person I didn't know how to be. 

Just know that if you can't walk down the aisle without physical help from your dad, that's probably not your perfect partner you're walking towards. 

I should add that I am not blaming my husband for this. I know I make him just as unhappy as he makes me. We are badly matched and it kills me to know I cannot change it. I can't be different and neither can he. 

So our energy will continue to flow in different directions. I wonder if I'll still be in this situation in a years time.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Do the clothes make the man?

When I left University, I had every intention of joining a creative agency. An agency that supported crazy, out-of-the-box (I hate that saying), thinking. One with pages and pages from sketch books spread out across the walls, where all team members wore jeans with holes in, glasses bigger than their face and had tattoos up to their neck. The type of people Steve Jobs referred to as 'the crazy ones'. We all know the speech, right?

Since then, I've moved from working for myself (quite often in pyjamas all day), to working for an agency with no dress code, to working for an agency which required constant smart clothes, and now I've been offered a very exciting opportunity to work in the most corporate environment yet (I will hopefully reveal more details in my next post!).

My wardrobe has become smarter and smarter. And, as much as I feel this is a mature change, I am less comfortable, increasingly more self-conscious and slightly worried I am losing my 'creative' identity?

My entire dissertation project focused on first-impressions and was heavily orientated around styles and genres of people - what they wear, how they present themselves, etc. Do you think presenting yourself more seriously, makes you a more serious person? I kind of hope it doesn't but at the same time I'm very eager to belong and fit into this agency.

A plus side to hiding your identity is the shock you give people when you sheepishly reveal your tattoos. To me, they show instant creativity and give a huge insight into my true personality. That can be quite fun! Plus Steve Jobs himself went from being a no-shoe-wearing hippie to a very corporate man, and he did just fine.

I don't know what it is about formal-wear but it makes me feel like I'm dressing up to be somebody I'm not, especially since it's going in the opposite direction of what I had planned. Does anybody else feel this way? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Gut Feelings and why I wish I'd listen to them.

I'm sure it is fair to say that we have all experienced gut feelings before. Some call in intuition or a sixth sense and I firmly believe it's remnants of our own human magic that we probably once employed a lot more than we do today. And yet how many of us ever heed the advice of our gut?

The very latest example of not listening to my gut happened about two weeks ago when a lovely bloke came around to measure my old and broken Crittall windows, as we have finally got the funds together to purchase new fandangled windows that will actually help us keep the house warm.

What could have possibly been the problem? It was about the halfway point of the meeting when suddenly my gut sprang to life. It just simply kept repeating "no" at me.

The psychology of gut feelings has been somewhat simplified. We see, hear, smell, taste or feel something (sense) and our brains rummage through the millions of memories we have and link that sense experience to a memory. In most of these events we cannot actually conjure up the memory so we are left with a gut feeling.

After my experience I was perplexed for days and tried to pin it down to something that was said or otherwise occurred in our brief meeting (measuring windows doesn't take long). But nothing would come up and in the end, and after several conversation with my husband where he reassured me I was nuts, I gave up and went ahead with the New-Windows-Process which involved new soffits, fascias and guttering too.

So the soffits fascias and gutters went up pretty much immediately and I was relatively happy. I mean, really, what am I going to know about these things? I was concerned about some unevenness on the front of the house but was assured that once the windows were in it would be fine.

It isn't.

On top of the issue of the wonky soffits I also had to deal with a very unprofessional and quite frankly - disgusting - workman, who refused to give me his company name when asked. I will find out his company name of course.

I was also quoted for triple glazed windows.

And they aren't.

So, there is a lesson to be learnt here. Even when you cannot justify your gut feeling, your brain is programmed to alert you to situations that haven't happened yet - because similar ones have happened before. Listen to it.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Nobody Mention Therapy

There are many social hang-ups over the word 'therapy' as it seems to insinuate that you have a problem that needs fixing. Physiotherapy is a therapy that works to improve physical disability, Radiotherapy is a therapy that aims to improve health through killing cancerous cells, and Aromatherapy is a therapy used to improve mood and stress levels. We falsely associate the word with negative connotations even though the results are often very positive.

As soon as you mention 'I'm in therapy' the reaction is always 'Oh dear, this girl must be crazy', which I don't think is accurate at all. And this makes you feel ashamed about seeking advice or talking to someone professionally. So we just don't talk about it. But isn't that the point of therapy? To be more open about yourself? From my personal experience, I was never 'fixed' but my mind was opened up and it's the best thing I've ever done.

I have signed up for therapy on two separate occasions now. The first was during my final University year when I was dealing with low self-confidence. I've never been overly confident but it suddenly became so low that it began to affect my health. I'd go days without eating properly because I didn't want to go outside. I had a theory into the reason why - a housemate went through a phase of treating me like I was invisible - but therapy actually revealed a lot of interesting factors that helped me to really understand and accept who I am, regardless of the people around me. This councillor was a very creative man, he recommended books written by Edward De Bono and I am adamant he helped me with my creative work as well as my social life. To this day I remember his advice whenever I question whether or not to go outside or to say my thoughts out loud. He also looked a bit like Santa Claus which is probably why I left each session craving pie.

The second, more recent, therapy sessions were recommended to me by my GP when I was having really frequent headaches. It turned out to be Sinusitis rather than stress but I'm glad I attended these sessions anyway. I witnessed somebody die horrifically for the first time just before my second session and I was pleased to have a professional to talk to. This therapist was very different to the first, she didn't say much at all throughout weeks 1-5 but supplied me with useful 'homework' tasks and gave me a huge review in my final session. This completely opened up my way of thinking. You naturally assume that you are reviewing your life situations in the only way you can, the right way, but when someone encourages you to really think about it, your entire thought process changes. You don't think what you think at all, you're doing what you assume is right rather than what is logical. You finally understand how and why you're stuck in a certain mind set and you feel like you've been set free. It helped that we had a common interest in Liam Neeson, and I spent most of session 5 acting out scenes from 'The Grey'. On reflection that's probably why she suggested in session 6 that I'd gained all I could from her expertise...

There are so many things that were holding me back that I didn't even realise, in both occasions, until my mind was shaken around a bit. I've realised that it's good practise to admit your flaws, perhaps not so publicly on here, but I want to recommend therapy to absolutely everyone. It's useful, fascinating and extremely rewarding. More importantly - it doesn't mean that you have a problem, it just means you are open to exploring what makes you who you are. And I think that's a great thing.

I believe that self-evaluation is the most powerful skill you can acquire. And I'm happy to say that I'm sure I will seek another therapist in the future :)

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Twenty Seven

Today I turn 27. This to me is just unreal. Where the hell did the last 10 years go? Last time I checked I was 16 and leaving school, now I'm almost 30. I think I'm about to have a late 20's crisis. When I was young I thought of this age as ancient, I thought 'wow when I'm 27 I'll be married with kids, have a house and a good job'. Hmm, didn't quite work like that. I haven't achieved anything I wanted to by this age. I'm not happy with my work life, I'm unmarried and have no kids, although not for the want of trying! I look around and everyone is getting married, posting scan photos on Facebook, everyone has good jobs….I'm not even engaged and have no babies arriving in the near future. What do I have to show for my life so far? Really not a lot. I guess I should count my blessings, I have the two best friends in the world, a supportive family, an amazing boyfriend who would do anything for me and a gorgeous puppy with a roof over my head and food on the table which is more than some people have. I just wish I had a few things I could say I've achieved at the age of 27! So I'm considering 27 as the start of better things to come. I am determined to make my business work better this year and if not I'll give up and move on to new things. I want to do a lot more photography work this year, travel more, do more exciting things, see my friends more, save more money, do up the house, have a baby or at least get pregnant, look into getting married in the near future, and do things that scare me, take the opportunities that come my way and be happier and more relaxed as a person. I'll be 30 in 3 years and would like to say I have achieved a few more things by then. Here's to new beginning and better times...

Friday, 25 October 2013

Conquering Anxiety

A few weeks ago I met Margaret, a lovely woman who reminds me of Spadge’s mum, after desperately searching online for a hypnotherapist to help me with my uncontrollable binge eating.

Now, I’ve always been an anxious individual, but it was one of those things that only my husband and close family get to see. Externally I don’t like people to think of me as anxious, whether they do or not I don’t know, but there it is. I certainly find it difficult to listen to other people’s anxious whittling because we all have our own problems, but I digress.
Upon running me through the initial consultation, Margaret raised the issue of my anxiety, which was palpable after discussing my eating habits and other aspects of my day to day life, and asked me to take part in a quick measurement test.
I scored a whopping 43 or “severely anxious” and after discussion, decided to try some hypnotherapy to help me alleviate some of the stress.
After two weeks my anxiety level went down to 9 or “barely anxious” and my life is a lot rosier. With less stress, I am more confident, feeling brighter and eating considerably less junk. I am more positive and outgoing and when something bad happens I don’t dwell on it for days. I’m more proactive and generally like to think I’m better company to be around.
I feel like nothing can get in my way, and it was worth every single minute (of relaxation), every single penny and now I wonder how I ever managed before?!
Anxiety disorders effect so many of us and to what end? Life is so much better without it.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Guilt Branding

This is a term I have just invented but I think that it could catch on!
This time of year, guilt branding (I'm going to keep saying it even though you have no idea what it is yet) starts to pop up everywhere, on some of my favourite products. It happens every year but this one occasion particularly enraged me...

It's October; Halloween is yet to approach and I still arrive home after work in time to watch the sun go down. Yet, as soon as I get to the supermarket I'm even more ashamed than usual to fill my basket with these:

And don't get me started on the Baileys packaging.

Deep down we know that these 'luxury items' are intended for gift-giving. They make great stocking fillers and bring families closer together when they share these huge packages of fattening or drunk-inducing treats.

But who the hell says that being drunk and eating chocolate for breakfast can only happen once a year? I buy family sized Toblerones for one all the time, sometimes I'll even let Rick have a piece that I've dropped on the floor a bit, you know like when you can't quite snap it gracefully into a clean break? And with very little guilt. 

This assumptive Christmas packaging just has to stop, especially in a month as early as October. Some of us need this sugary, coma-inducing treatment all year round. I demand a guilt-free-gorge! Who's with me?

*dies alone* 

Saturday, 5 October 2013


It has taken me a lot of courage to write this post. Infertility is a bit of a taboo subject, after all if you have sex, you will get pregnant and die right?! That's what we were taught in school. We spend years trying not to get pregnant, pumping various dangerous drugs into our bodies that cause all sorts of hideous symptoms not to mention what it is probably doing to your body and reproductive system that you can't see on the outside, you would think that when you want to get pregnant it would be easy. STOP RIGHT THERE! Of course some people get pregnant by accident (seems near enough impossible to me!), some get pregnant first time and some take a few months. Let me tell you, for every person that gets pregnant easily there is one that doesn't. The one that takes months, years to conceive. Well thats me. And I never in a million years thought that that would be me, but it is. I'm currently expecting period number 16 since we have been trying. Thats 16 months of unprotected sex with no results. I am left thinking why on earth did I ever take the pill, put up with the headaches, the full body itching, the spots, the breast lumps to name but a few of the problems I had with it. 16 long months of trying for a baby you want so much and getting nowhere. I have seen people get pregnant, give birth and sure enough get pregnant with number 2 in the time I have been trying. That hurts! Don't get me wrong I know there are people out there that have been trying for a lot longer than I have and according to my doctor 16 months is still in the 'normal' timeframe of 18 months but it just gets so frustrating seeing people posting their scan photos on Facebook, relatives getting pregnant in their teens by someone they barely know and new baby photos scattered all over social media. When you want something so much and you honestly don't know if you will ever have it, it hurts. When that thing is a baby it hurts even more. I have always wanted kids, I picked out my future daughter's name about 5 years ago, I always dreamt of taking my kids to the beach to make sand castles and going shopping for cute clothes, helping them with their homework and being there when they cry. At the moment I don't know if that will ever happen and it's the most frustrating and depressing thing in the world. Then there are the 'aren't you two going to have a baby soon?' and 'aren't you broody?' questions from insensitive morons at the dinner table in front of 10 other people. While we are on the subject of insensitive comments, one of the most annoying things you can say to a person who is trying to conceive is 'just relax'. Well thanks for that but the more you tell me to relax, the more wound up I get. 'It will happen when you least expect it' Well right now, I don't expect it at all but so far no luck with that one either! 'You need to be more positive about it' well ok, right now after 16 months I'm not positive about it, but at the beginning I was excited, thinking this time next year we'll have a baby, only it didn't happen that way so no I'm not feeling positive! You see my frustration?!

People just don't understand how hard it is for some people to get pregnant. I recently joined an amazing community of 'TTCers' (TTC=Trying to conceive) on a popular social networking site with hundreds of members going through this struggle and I can tell you I was surprised by the amount of people who are going through the same thing. Young people, older people, healthy people, not so healthy people, it isn't stuck to one type of person. It has really helped me realise I'm not alone and I've made some lovely new friends who understand what it's like and are always there for advice.

There are only a few people who know we are trying as I find it adds more pressure to us the more people that know. The last thing I need is for people to be asking about my womb status every time I see them! I actually find it very embarrassing too as getting pregnant should be a pretty easy thing to do and people just don't seem to get it!

So the next thing for us is various tests to see what the problem is, if a problem comes up we will be referred to the fertility clinic after 18 months of trying for even more tests. Luckily for men there's only one test they can do, unlucky for me there are a lot more tests that can be done on women. I can't say I'm looking forward to that!

Here are a few tips for anyone trying to conceive……

*Keep it to yourself as much as possible, the less people know the less stress for you.
*Keep yourself busy in the 2 week wait.
*Try not to get too obsessed over having sex at the right time.
*Try to keep things romantic in the bedroom, if sex is just about having a baby it's going to get stressful and unenjoyable very quickly.
*Try to have sex throughout your cycle and not just on the days you can get pregnant.
*Eat healthily, take vitamins, drink water, exercise.
*Use ovulation predictor tests, they are great for knowing when/if you are ovulating.
*Don't do a pregnancy test every month. I know a lot of people who test every month and get disappointed, wait for your period to arrive, it's disappointing but not as bad as seeing the words 'not pregnant' flash up on the screen! Remember your period is a free pregnancy test!
*If you're are not pregnant after a year, see a doctor. They will arrange tests to be done, usually starting with a sperm analysis and blood test to see if you're ovulating. Don't put it off, waiting lists for fertility clinics are long apparently!