The Menopausal Gym-Dodgers Work Out

I hate the gym.

Firstly because I’m an anti-social arsehole. Secondly, I have a pathological fear of looking at another woman’s pubes (attached or on the floor) when I’m showering.

Communal showers? Me dear? No dear.

The last female pubes (other than my own) that I clapped eyes was in 1986 when I was shoved into the communal showers by our sadistic PE teacher who was having no more of my ‘Please excuse my daughter from showering – she’s on her period’ notes.

The gym not your bag either? Here are some simple (but effective) exercises you can do at home or when you are out and about.

The Curling Tongs Squat – Bum & Thighs

I use my straighteners for this exercise..

Instead of resting the appliance on a table, or between your thighs, put it on the floor.

Health and safety: Use a heat mat (obvs) or you’ll set fire to the farking carpet.

Starting in the standing position, keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Pull in your tummy, push your hips back and bend your knees, lowering the body into a squatting position. Pause, pick up your hair appliance, then push back up to the starting position. Fiddle with your hair a bit, then lower yourself back into the squatting position – placing the appliance on the floor.

Do these squats every time you do your hair and you’ll have a rear-end like Kim Kardashian in no time!

Health and Safety: Have your mobile phone to hand in case you pop a hip joint.

The Bag For Life Cardio and Bicep Workout – Biceps/Cardio

Go to local supermarchet and buy two carrier bags worth of groceries. These must include a few tins. I suggest ‘bags for life’ – not those flimsy pieces of shite they flog you for 5p. You know the ones – wispy bits of plastic that surrender under the pressure of a loaf and a packet of Kit-Kats.

Keep the loads evenly balanced and start walking home.

Build up a nice fast pace to get your heart going like the clappers, hence, cardio.

Once you’re nice and warmed up – start lifting your carrier bags as if you’re doing a bicep curl with a dumbbell. Do a few reps with the right, then switch to the left.

You might notice people crossing the road away from you or doing a finger-swirly thing at the side of their heads? Swirly-finger aside, they are actually doing you a favour because it means that you have the entire pavement to yourself. More room to throw those bags about, dears.

Too far to walk? No probs! Park your car further away and get a few reps in before you collapse onto the drivers seat. Opt for this instead of doing your shopping online and within a few months you’ll be fit as feck.

Or possibly dead after having suffered a massive coronary..

Health and Safety: Always carry your mobile phone should you need to phone for a taxi or ambulance.

StairMaster Challenge – Bum & Thighs – Cardio.

This one is really simple. You alternate between running up the stairs and taking them two at a time whenever you get the chance. Running up the stairs gives you a cardio workout and taking them two at a time will give you thighs like tree-trunks. Just think of how magnificent you will look in those hot-pants you’ve been hoarding since 1975!

P.S This won’t work if you live in a bungalow.

Door Slide Squat – Bums & Thighs

For this you need a door – preferably a smooth one.

Stand with your back against a closed door and slowly lower yourself down to squatting position, then slowly push yourself back up.

That’s it.

First time I did this, the buggering door gave way. Before I knew what was happening my Reeboks were up in the air and I was staring at the bedroom ceiling. £250 quids worth of You’ve Been Framed right there. Thankfully nobody knew about except me. And now you, readers..

This exercise works your bum and thighs. Again, it might be an idea to keep your mobile handy in-case you can’t get up once you’re down. Though, I always find that a military type sideways roll sorts that particular problem out.

Health and Safety: Always check that the door shuts properly or you could end up doing yourself a mischief..

Bath Bingo-Wing Blaster – Triceps

Bingo-wings are what happens when the skin on your arms (the muscle above your elbow) carry on wobbling long after you’ve stopped waving to your mate across the street. It’s the reason cardigans were invented and it’s why some menopausal women wear one even when it’s 33 degrees in the shade.

YES I’M TALKING ABOUT ME!

Bingo-wings are unsightly but you can get rid of them without having some sweaty sergeant-major wannabe hovering over you bellowing, ‘GIMME FIFTY, YOU ‘ORRIBLE LITTLE WOMAN!’.

For this exercise, you’ll need a chair. A stable chair. Not a B & Q plastic garden chair.

Sit on the chair and grip the edges either side of you. Move your feet forwards to lift your bum off the chair. Keeping your knees hip-width apart and bent at 90 degrees, lower yourself by bending your arms to about 90 degrees, keeping your elbows tucked in. Push back up and repeat 10 to 15 times.

I do this on the side of the bath when I go for a wee.

NOT that I wee in the bath..

This is the same as the chair exercise. You simply use the side of the bath as you would the chair, innit?

Health and safety: Don’t do this after having a bath. It’s asking for a fast ride in the back of an ambulance with the nee-nar on.

Pelvic Floor Workout

As we age the muscles around the bladder, vagina and bum passage get slack. This is why we piss ourselves laughing. LITERALLY. However, there are exercises we can do to help with this problem and the good news is that we can do them anytime, anyplace – anywhere.

If you want to ‘feel’ where your pelvic floor muscles are – stop yourself mid-wee. That is your pelvic floor muscle working only you shouldn’t do this as a strengthening exercise.

Squeeze the muscles about 10-15 times in a row.

You can do this while standing in the post-office queue if you like. Unless your concentrating face is the ‘tongue out’ kind, nobody will know what you are up to. Do these exercises every day and stick the Vs up to incontinence.

So there you go. No need to go sweating it out at the local gym or paying extortionate fees. All these are free.

Note: These exercises are valid (except for the carrier bag bicep-curl which is me being a tit) but it’s a good idea to get yourself an MOT at your GPs before launching yourself into any keep fit regime. Oh, and make sure your life-insurance is up to date in the event of you carking it mid-squat. 😉

Viva La Menopause!

 

Viva La Menopause: Hair and Make-Up

There comes a day in your life when you’re standing in a mirrored-changing room and you look at yourself and think, ‘Effing hell! I look like an ageing glam-rocker!’

It’s a defining moment in your history.

We can’t stop ourselves from ageing but wearing the wrong make-up (or too much of it) can make us look older than our years. Teenage girls literally wear their own body weight in make-up to look older, right? So it’s logical that when we get older – the opposite applies. We need LESS make-up to look younger.

Here are my tips for looking magnificent after the menopause.

Hair

After the menopause most women suffer some level of hair loss. Why? Because Mother Nature is a cow.

Technically it’s to do with lack of oestrogen. You’ll find yourself de-clogging the plug-hole everytime you wash your hair. However, there are things you can do like limiting the use of hair straighteners etc and using hair-thickening shampoos. This is where ‘back-combing’ becomes a necessity rather than a fad. Do you know why little old ladies have their hair back-combed? It’s to make what little hair they have left go further. Of course, you could always do a Dolly Parton and slap a wig on?

When it comes to colouring hair- darker colours can be ageing and accentuate thinning hair. You also have to disciplined when it comes to touching your roots up or you end up looking like a badger. I’m currently a rather fetching Dot Cotton shade of red. Like Autumn, it’s my final fling with colour before I succumb to the monochrome. Once I hit 50, I intend to strip my hair of dye and have it cut short and a bit spiky. If it’s a really crap shade of grey, I will have it highlighted. Either way, I aim to be flippin’ funky at fifty!

Make-Up

There is a specific order to putting on make-up. However, I am a lot like the Morecambe and Wise sketch where Eric is playing ‘all the right notes, just not necessarily in the right order’. As long as I manage to get my foundation on first, I consider myself to be WINNING!

So, once we’ve faffed about with cleansers and anti-ageing creams, we can begin. *cracks fingers*

Foundation

Use the BEST foundation you can afford. You want one that STAYS on. I use Estee Lauder’s Double Wear which retails at around £30. It’s expensive and I have to flog a bodily organ every four months to afford it but it makes me look semi-alive and it stays on until I jet-blast it off the next morning last thing at night. This is the Chuck Norris of foundations.

Concealer

Bags under your eyes? You’ll need concealer. I use Touche Éclat by YSL which retails for around £25. It isn’t the cheapest but it is the only concealer that works on my dark circles. I have dark circles because insomnia goes hand in hand with the menopause and this little treasure gives the illusion of me having my full quota of kip. If you can’t bag a night’s sleep, blag a nights sleep.

Blusher

Once the hormones go feral it’s best to opt for cream blusher and BLEND that sucker in well or you’ll look a proper div, yeah?

Eyebrows

If you’re anything like me – thirty odd years of plucking the living shit out of your eyebrows has left them sparser than a Christmas tree in January. You can go and get some tattooed on if you like but be warned that it could leave you looking a 42 caret plonker if it goes wrong. Just add a few ‘hairs’ with an eyebrow pencil or eye-shadow. No, not Azure Blue! I mean one that matches your eyebrow hair – what’s left of it.

Eye-Shadow

Glitter is fabulous but glittery eye-shadow should ONLY be worn by teenage girls under the influence of Lambrusco. Glittery or frosted eye-shadow accentuates every crease. After a few hours, your eye-shadow settles into your eye-crevices and it looks nasty. You might as well have a neon sign over your head which says, ‘WELL PAST IT’. Opt for matt or cream shadows and leave the neon shades to the kids, eh?

I should mention brow bones here. You know? The area where you used to put your highlighter? Basically there is this ‘landslide’ thingy that happens with the skin on the brow bones as we age. That once defined line between brow-bone and eyelid becomes confined to the photograph album. I think there are exercises you can do to tone things up but I say SOD THAT for a game of conkers!

Eye-Liner

It’s the 1980s on the phone for you, dear. IT WANTS IT’S EYELINER BACK!

Confession time. I wore Electric Blue eyeliner until I was in my 40s. I have GREEN eyes!!! Awks!!

Mascara

Mascara is my number one favourite item of make-up. I would stab ANYBODY who tries to come between me and my magic wand. Thing is, I know my eyes are my best feature. Like me, they’re odd. One is green and the other is a mixture of green and brown. It’s very me. Mascara brings them to life and even if I was in the throes of a massive heart attack, I would still attempt to get a few strokes in..

No. YOU have a filthy mind!

My tip is to buy a decent mascara and use three coats. Then once a week, use a shit brand while you are doing the housework. Those three coats will weigh an absolute TON – the advantage being that it gives your ageing eyelids a much needed workout. Just as if your eyelids are pumping weights, innit?!

Lipstick

As we age, our lips become thinner. They can become wrinkled and lines may develop around our mouths. The boundary between lips and skin are less defined so lipstick ‘bleeds’ and if you’re a fan of red lippy you can end up looking like Robert Smith from The Cure if you’re not careful. However, there are things you can do though such as avoiding glossy or creamy lipsticks. Or how about ditching the lippy altogether and settling for a nice lip-balm? If you want to be really cheap – slap on some of that Vaseline that’s been festering in the back of your bathroom cabinet since 1988.

That’s it for this time, folks. VIVA LA MENOPAUSE!

Good morning, madam. May I interest you in our skin-care range? We do sell this astringent – I don’t know if it’s strong enough for what you need, but it brought my chip pan up lovely. ~ Victoria Wood ~ As Seen On TV.

Robert Smith Image Via Creative Commons

 

 

 

 

What Happens When We Die? Part One: ADCs

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I love talking about death, me. Strange considering I have health anxiety, but it’s not death itself that gets me hyperventilating – it’s the dying bit.

What interests me is what happens to us after we die.

I believe that consciousness survives death because I’ve experienced paranormal phenomena – my earliest recollection being when I was 9 years old when on two separate occasions I saw a child in my house who didn’t belong there. In other words, I saw a ghost.

However, the experience that turned me into a ‘bleever’ happened early one December morning..

Something woke me up around 3am. It was a familiar sound but it took a few seconds to comprehend what it was because – you know – brain fog? Once my brain engaged, I realised it was my Bontempi organ..

The organ was operated by batteries and made a whirring sound when you switched it on. Somehow, it had switched itself on despite being visibly off. I wasn’t scared but I was awake. The only way to shut the damn thing up was to take the batteries out. So I did. I also made a mental note to get my dad to look it the next day. Problemo sorted, I got back into bed.

Close Encounters of the Bontempi Kind.

That’s when I saw my rocking chair moving gently back and forth.

I assumed it was movement generated from me walking about. Logical, right? Only the bugger kept on rocking long after I’d stopped moving. It was as if somebody was sitting on it? Except that NOBODY WAS THERE. There were no open windows, no drafts, no heating and NO LOGICAL REASON FOR THIS TO BE HAPPENING! By now you’d imagine that a young girl would be crapping her pajamas? On the contrary, I was exceptionally calm.

At this point that I became aware of a smell of perfume. I knew the smell, but from where?

What happened next is why I believe so strongly that our consciousnesses never die..

Brace yourself, folks, cos it’s about to get wanky..

I was filled with THE MOST INTENSE feeling of love.

Think of how it felt to hold your babies for the first time and then multiply it by about a GAZILLION.

Then I remembered who’s perfume it was..

It was my grandmother’s.

The same grandmother who’d once owned the chair that was rocking by itself. The perfume was hers. I don’t remember it on her, as I was only 6 when she died, but I was given her jewellery which was infused with her perfume – the same perfume that was filling my room.

It was unmistakable.

My Bontempi returned to perfect working order. Dad could find no logical reason for it’s ‘malfunction’. My theory? Grandma had to wake me up somehow, right? Just enough noise to wake me but not enough to scare the shit out of me.

What I experienced was an ADC (after-death communication)

What the actual chuff is an ADC?

Bill and Judy Guggenheim defined the ADC as a “spiritual experience that occurs when someone is contacted directly and spontaneously by a family member or friend who has died.”

There are twelve major forms of after-death communication.

Sentient ADC – Where you sense the presence of the deceased.

Auditory ADC – Where you can hear the voice of the deceased.

Tactile ADC – Where you feel the physical touch of the deceased.

Olfactory ADC – Where you smell a fragrance associated with the deceased.

Partial Appearance ACD – When you see parts of the deceased but they don’t appear to be ‘solid’.

Visual ADC – A full appearance from the deceased where they look ‘solid’ and ‘real’.

Twilight ACD – These occur as you fall asleep or wake up.

Sleep State ACD – When a dream is more than a dream.

Out of Body ACD – Contact with the deceased during an OBE.

Telephone ACD – Phone-calls from heaven – literally.

ACDs of Physical Phenomena – Flickering lights ‘n’ shizz.

Symbolic ACDs – Butterflies, rainbows, robins or inanimate objects as a sign from the deceased.

My experience was sentient, olfactory and physical. To be honest, I’m glad Grandma didn’t choose to ‘appear’ in part OR full because I’m fairly confident I would have shit the bed.

My ADC happened in the early hours, as many do, simply because it’s when we are most relaxed and there are fewer distractions. They also happen during stressful times in our lives or around special days, like birthdays or anniversaries. My ADC happened on December the 18th 1981. My Grandma died on December the 18th 1976. Coincidence?

The experience is very special to me. The reason I don’t fear death is because five years after she died, my grandmother was still around. I couldn’t see her but I was aware of her.

Sceptics have belittled my experience as a ‘dream’ or ‘psychotic episode’. Thing is, you don’t remember dreams decades later and I find the ‘psychotic episode’ theory to be insulting – not to mention lazy.

Psychosis is an abnormal condition of the mind that involves a loss of contact with reality.

I might be a fully-fledged psycho now but I wasn’t then. I was 11 years old. My head was full of Duran Duran and Smash Hits. If I was going to have a hallucination – it would have been Nick Rhodes, mate, not the grandmother who I could barely remember.

Believing in the afterlife doesn’t make people stupid or gullible. Some hard-line sceptics  openly ridicule people’s experiences and ignore the fact that many believers are credible people. Scientific people with letters after their names and shit.

In a review of research on ADCs, Streit-Horn (2011) found that they occur with people of all nationalities, intelligence levels, religions, ethnicity etc. People who report these experiences are typically NOT mentally ill.

None of this matters to the closed-minds of the sceptics, mostly because they have reputations to live up to. They demand scientific proof, or it didn’t happen.

I can’t prove any of what happened to me and those who could verify certain things are no longer here. Does this mean it didn’t happen?

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” Albus Dumbledore

A big thank you to Lori from Days Gone By Etsy shop who kindly allowed me to use and adapt her Bontempi photograph.

 

 

 

Songs That Make You Go WTF?!

I LOVE music. Without music, where would we be? But occasionally I hear a song and think to myself, ‘What the actual eff were you thinking when you wrote this?’

He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss) – The Crystals – 1962

“He couldn’t stand to hear me say
 That I’d been with someone new,
 And when I told him I had been untrue
 He hit me
 And it felt like a kiss
 He hit me
 And I knew he loved me”

It’s hard to believe that this was co written by a woman, let alone a woman who has allegedly suffered repeated domestic abuse. Carole King, what were you thinking?!

Every Breath You Take – The Police – 1983

“Every single day
 Every word you say
 Every game you play
 Every night you stay
 I’ll be watching you”

A popular song reaching the top of the charts. People have this played at their wedding as ‘their song’. Romantic, eh? You can just imagine the newlyweds taking to the dance floor with their family and friends looking on, dabbing their eyes with hankies. Aww.

Er, THE SONG IS ABOUT STALKING!

“I woke up in the middle of the night with that line in my head, sat down at the piano and had written it in half an hour. The tune itself is generic an aggregate of hundreds of others, but the words are interesting. It sounds like a comforting love song. I didn’t realize at the time how sinister it is. I think I was thinking of Big Brother surveillance and control”. ~ Sting

Baby It’s Cold Outside – Tom Jones & Cerys Matthews 1999

My mother will start to worry (beautiful what’s your hurry?)
My father will be pacing the floor (listen to the fireplace roar)
So really I’d better scurry (beautiful please don’t hurry)
But maybe just a half a drink more (put some records on while I pour)

The neighbors might think (baby, it’s bad out there)
Say what’s in this drink? Rohypnol by the sounds of it! (no cabs to be had out there)
I wish I knew how (your eyes are like starlight now)
To break this spell (I’ll take your hat, your hair looks swell)
I ought to say, no, no, no sir (mind if I move in closer?)

The song was written in 1944 by Frank Loesser and there have been numerous versions. I listed Tom Jones’ version, simply because it’s the one I’m the most familiar with. To be fair, when you put these lyrics in the context of the era they were written in (1944) you understand that in those days it wasn’t the done thing to spend the night with a boyfriend or fiance. Also, the reference to ‘what’s in this drink’ was a saying of the era to blame one’s actions on alcohol. However, the song morphs into territory of the creepy kind when viewed by today’s standards, no?

Tap Turns On The Water – CCS – 1971

“Peak through the bathroom door (Did you ever, did you ever)
 See your sister in the raw (Did you ever, did you ever)”

One of the most disturbing songs of my childhood.

Missy Elliott – Work It – 2002

“Take my thong off and my ass go boom!”

Me too, Missy. Me too..

Miley Cyrus – I Forgive Yiew – 2015

“How dare you bring another chick in our bed
You’re lucky I’m doing my yoga, or you might be dead”

Namaste, Motherf**ker!

30 Hours – Kanye West – 2016

“My ex said she gave me the best years of her life
Seen a recent picture of her and I guess she was right”

You’d be under the patio if you were my ex, Kanye. Here’s hoping you age horribly.

Burn Bitch Burn – Kiss -1984

“Oh babe, I wanna put my log in your fireplace.”

One of the finest rock ballads of all time. GET YOUR FAG LIGHTERS UP IN THE AIR!

Figure You Out – Nickleback – 2003

“I love your pants around your feet… You’re like my favourite damn disease.”

Chlamydia or gonorrhea, Chad?

Come On Eileen – Dexy’s Midnight Runners – 1982

“You in that dress, My thoughts I confess,
Verge on dirty,
Oh, come on Eileen”

Every time we shout, ‘Come on Eileen’, we are urging the poor girl to give into Kevin Rowland’s constant badgering to have it off. Also, Eileen does NOT wear a dress in the video. She wears a fetching pair of dungarees – possibly to keep Kev’s thoughts from verging on the ‘dirty’. Incidentally, ‘Eileen’ was played by Máire Fahey, sister of Siobhan Fahey from Bananarama. Consider yourselves enlightened, peeps. Too loo rye aye?

Kim – Eminem – 2000

A hate/love song penned about his wife, Kim, cheating on him. Seemingly you can put the fantasy of killing your wife into song lyrics and it be perfectly acceptable? Not only that. A follow up song where you take your DAUGHTER with you to dispose of her mother’s body in the lake? Er, Mr Policemen, hello?

“You really f**ked me Kim
 You really did a number on me
 Never knew me cheating on you would come back to haunt me
 But we was kids then Kim, I was only eighteen
 That was years ago”

So, let me get this straight. He cheated on her FIRST but it’s OK because he was only eighteen and in any case, it was years ago, so it doesn’t count?

Here’s the thing, Marshall. 18 is the age when the United States (and the rest of the world) considers young people capable of accepting responsibility for their actions. I vote that Kim writes her own song where she sticks YOU in the boot of a car (naked) and drives YOU to a remote location where it’s only inhabitant is a grizzly bear with a penchant for nuts.

The popularity of this song makes me fear for humanity.

Miley Cyrus (again) BB Talk – 2015

“Look, I like when you send me, you know, the queen emoji, but when I send back the monkey, you know, the ones with the hands over the eyes? That means that shit’s just getting a little too weird for me.”

SMILEY

Puff Daddy feat. Mase – Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down -1997

“Young, black and famous – with money hanging out the anus.”

Makes a change from hemorrhoids, Puff.

Michael Bolton – Can I Touch You There? -1995

“Can I touch you there?”

No.

Destiny’s Child – Bills Bills Bills – 1999

“Can you pay my bills? Can you pay my telephone bills? Can you pay my automo’ bills? Then maybe we can chill. I don’t think you do, so you and me are through.”

So much for the ‘Independent Woman’, eh girls?

Sing it with me now..

“All the women, who are independent
Throw your hands up at me
All the honeys, who making money
Throw your hands up at me”

Coming soon: Songs That Make You Go WTF. Side B

The Dash In-Between

There is a dash which represents our lives between birth and death.

This is the dash.

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My dash has one date before it because I’m still alive, or at least I think I am?

*checks pulse*

Yep, still here.

One day there will be two dates because there is no doubt, whatsoever, that I’m going to die.

I try not to worry about that too much.

OK, I’m lying through my teeth. I torture myself DAILY with thoughts of death. But then I suffer from health anxiety, innit?

I don’t fear death itself. Truth be told, living is hard graft when you are autistic and I’ll probably be glad of some eternal rest after a few more decades of life in the shit-lane. NOT that being autistic is shit. It isn’t. It’s the anxiety, that’s shit.

The thing is that death is still a bit taboo. Brits don’t like to think about death until they absolutely have to despite TV adverts encouraging us to ‘plan for the inevitable’. Life Insurance companies give away bribes gifts, like clocks, so you can watch the seconds tick away. Nice touch, Guys.

However, some of us don’t get the opportunity to plan for the inevitable because we get wiped out under the wheels of a Number 48 bus during a spontaneous sprint across the road to buy a pie or the shock of the £250 supermarket bill stops our hearts, literally. Or we succumb to some disease or other. We like to think we’re in control of our own lives but we’re not.

I’m 47 now. How did that happen? It only seems like yesterday I was snogging Nick Rhodes’ face off on my bedroom wall but thanks to an early menopause I feel like I’m in the re-make of Cocoon..

Having a biological age of 103 means I’m already down on the deal and at this rate I’ll be giving The Boy a lift to high-school on the back of a mobility scooter – which he’d probably love. Most women amble gracefully into menopause whereas I’ve been catapulted into it to find the hormone police waiting for me, truncheons at the ready.

‘ELLO ELLO ELLO! WHAT ‘AVE WE ‘ERE THEN? ‘OESTROGEN AND A FULLY FUNCTIONING PELVIC -FLOOR? WE’LL BE ‘AVIN THOSE! AND YOUR SANITY. HAND EM OVER, THERE’S A GOOD MRS. WE DON’T WANT NO TROUBLE NOW DO WE?’

Bastards.

So I’m swallowing all manner of pills and potions in an attempt to claw back a few years or at least slow the process down. It could be a lot worse. Of course it could because as annoying as my symptoms are, they are transitory and by the time I’m 50 (ish) I should be slightly less deranged. So my GP says, anyway..

With the menopause (and bits dropping off me at an alarming rate) I’m more aware of my ‘dash’ than ever. My parents are dead and mortality is slapping me in the face and, yes, it unnerves me. Someone told me that when you hit 40, it’s downhill from then on. They lied. It’s 35.

I grew up thinking that you got old and then you died. Grandma was in her 70s, as was Nan, and Grandad was a respectable 81 when he wheezed through the pearly gates…

That’s how I expected it to be.

Then the unimaginable happened…

A girl in my school died. She was fifteen years old.

Her dash was too brief.

Years later, my nephew died. His dash represented just four years. How sad is that?

My dad died aged 58 and by now I’d realised that ‘three score years and ten’ wasn’t a cert. To be fair, Dad’s dash was a happy dash apart from the last 12 months, which were shit.

I’m not afraid of death itself because I’m one of those lunatics who believe that consciousness survives death. It’s the before bit that worries me because I have the pain threshold of a testicle. I can’t even stand a deep clean at the dentist without having to be anesthetized so what chance do I have with something major?

I want to reach a grand old age (marbles intacto, obvs) where I can gracefully say, ‘Rightio, Death, I’m ready. You may take me now’. Then I want to slip into a Werthers induced coma having watched an entire box set of Ground Force and, seeing as this is my fantasy, Alan Titchmarsh can be the one to take me to heaven wearing nothing but his wellies and a smile.

That’s another thing about the menopause. One day you’re into Duran Duran and sling-backs, the next you’re craving middle-aged gardeners and comfy slippers. Or maybe that’s just me?

Death is going to happen sooner or later because none of us are immortal except for Bruce Forsyth who’s 302. We can always pay to have ourselves cryogenically frozen but it’s out of most people’s price ranges. Not to mention, creepy.

We worry about death but forget that before we were born, we didn’t exist. Get your brain cells around THAT one! We are part of something much bigger than ourselves but we’re all connected right down to the microscopic stuff that we can’t see. There is too much intricacy and beauty for it all to be random or meaningless, so says me. Our bodies become diseased or frail and eventually stop working but the essence which is us cannot die because it’s energy and energy doesn’t die – it just re-groups.

The dash represents our entire lives. We don’t get to choose when we we’re born and the majority of us don’t get to choose when we die. What happens in-between isn’t necessarily our choice but our attitude to any given situation, regardless of how difficult, most certainly is our choice. This is what our eulogies will be about. Not how long we lived, but how we lived.

In this little corner of the internet I make fun of myself because it’s therapeutic. I try to be kind to my fellow human beings even if I don’t understand them very well. My life will always require effort because I’m autistic, not to mention a nervous Nora. But I brought three amazing human beings into this world and that’s what I’m proud of and when the day comes when my dash is complete, I hope their memories of me will make their tears happy ones. Happy as in I’ll be missed. Not happy as in doing the conger round the living room shouting ‘YESSSSS!! THE OLD BAG’S FINALLY CROAKED! WHERE SHE KEEP THE WILL, BRO’S?’

None of us are getting out of this thing alive, are we? All we can do is accept death and hope that when he does come for us, he’s a friend. Most importantly, we need to make our dashes count.

“DON’T THINK OF IT AS DYING, said Death. JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH.” ~ Terry Pratchett – Good Omens

 

The Show Must Go On

I’m struggling today. I need to write how I feel because it helps me and maybe in helping myself I can help you too?

The anxiety isn’t as severe as it has been. It’s a manageable 6/10 but my numerous annoying ailments have decided to come out and play at the same time. My neck is sore. My tinnitus is driving me INSANE and I have the beginnings of yet another migraine.

I try to look at the positives. As in, I’m still alive. I wasn’t one of the 151,600 people in the world that died yesterday. I’m still here. Yet it’s like trying to drive on a flat tyre. Only in my case, a new tyre isn’t an option. The tyre represents my brain and I can’t just go out and buy a new brain. Unless Ebay have started selling brains?

A lot of the things I am experiencing today are not actually anxiety symptoms. I’m 47, therefore it’s natural for there to be wear and tear, especially as most of my jobs were heavy manual work. I’m only five foot one with a small frame so I’ve put a lot of strain on my body over the years. What can I say? You do what you have to do to put food on the table.

Due to my autism, these little annoyances become amplified and it has to be said that anxiety, while it doesn’t cause them, DOES make them feel worse. Stress hormones affect the bones and joints and I’ve always noticed that when I go through a phase of increased anxiety – my aliments are worse. Obviously, the answer is to address my anxiety and all these other things should start to improve. This doesn’t mean that I don’t feel pissed off though. I’ve forgotten what it is to feel ‘well’ because it’s been that long since I felt that way. Another thing that pisses me off is that I never appreciated good health when I had it. I used to hear older people say, ‘You don’t appreciate good health until it’s gone’. Too farking true, me dears.

I get it. I’m middle-aged, post-menopausal and slightly mad. How can I expect to feel like I did in my twenties or thirties? I’m lacking the necessary hormones for a start. My body is crumbling like Cheshire cheese. I’m getting older and let me tell you that it comes around TOO DAMN FAST. It seems like yesterday that I was snogging Nick Rhodes on my bedroom wall. Now I can see 50 waving at me (hopefully) and with that comes the realisation that I am well over half way through my life, if the three score years and ten is to be believed? Sobering thought, eh? Enough to make one want to pissed, only I can’t drink because I have ANXIETY.

Another way of looking at it and probably THE best way is not to mourn my youth but to thank my stars that I have a decent amount of life to look back on. Health wise, that is.

I lost my friend to cancer last year. She was one year older than me with so much more to give, especially to her eight year old son. When I think of what she went through it makes me guilty about whinging on about stuff. She’d have given anything for my problems to be hers instead of the cancer which was invading her body at an alarming rate. However, if you are reading this and thinking that her death should have been enough to make me ‘get a grip’, then my friend, you have NEVER experienced anxiety disorder because it is an illness. I’m not talking about the normal anxiety that every human being experiences, like the nervousness before a job interview or those few seconds after you hear a loud bang. I’m talking about the kind of anxiety that’s debilitating and destructive. It’s a very real illness. Just not one that can be seen. It’s effects, however, are visible to all. If you look close enough, you will see the fear in their eyes. You will see the tremor in their hands. You will notice their inability to be still. If you are sensitive enough, you may even smell their fear. These are the outer signs of a body that’s fucked up due to stress.

Thankfully, I know that recovery from mental illness is achievable for most of us and if it can’t be cured, it can definitely be managed to give quality of life. That thought acts as a light when my skies are dark. Another light comes in the form of my children. A funny text or a phone call from my eldest boys. Or today when I woke up to a dark inner sky. A sleepy voice said, “Cuddle me mama?” and some of those dark clouds lifted. Not enough to make all of this sodding crap go away but enough for me to have the energy and will to keep fighting it.

If you are struggling with anxiety, know this. You will win some battles and you will lose some but you CAN win the war. It really isn’t about how many times you fall down but about how many times you get up again. I know you are tired. I know your soul is weary but KEEP GETTING UP. Even when your legs feel so heavy you don’t think they can support you. THEY WILL. They are STRONGER than you think. YOU are stronger than you think. Rest if you need to but then you must get back up.

Life is a show and we must get on with it as best we can because this isn’t the rehearsal. There never was one in this show called ‘Life’. So, do that pile of ironing, even if it you do it sitting down and it takes you ALL DAY. Walk the dog. Hoover up. ON WITH THE SHOW!

The show must go on
I’ll face it with a grin
I’m never giving in
On with the show.

The Show Must Go On ~ Queen ~ Brian May

 

Mumisms: Things My Mother Used To Say

Parents have a language all of their own. Some phrases we understand, like ‘NO, YOU CAN’T’ and ‘I’M GOING TO COUNT TO TEN’ but there are other things we haven’t a clue about because they don’t make sense. You probably find yourself using the same lingo with your own children because it’s ingrained, innit? You wake up one day and you’ve gone from relatively cool to OH MY GOD, I AM MY MOTHER! It’s a rite of passage of Motherdom, along with droopy boobs and incontinence.

My mother, bless her, had a plethora of phrases that I’d like to share with you readers..

Number 10

‘Gone For A Burton’

Meaning: A reference to a person who had died or an item that was broken.

First heard at the age of 7 when I limped into the kitchen with a broken strap on my brand new sandals. Mum took a puff on her fag and said, ‘Well. That’s them gone for a Burton then.’ I didn’t know who or what this ‘Burton’ was. Richard Burton was big at the time so it could have been him. All I know is that I cried PROPER TEARS over those wretched sandals because in those days, money was short and I knew I wasn’t going to get another pair anytime soon. *sobs*

Number 9

‘Clod-Hoppers’

Meaning: A rough, unsophisticated countryman.

Since the early 19th century, in the UK and USA, ‘clod-hoppers’ were also the name given to ploughmen’s boots.

Mum used to refer to my eldest brother’s 1970s platform shoes and work-boots as ‘Clod-Hoppers’. My brother would often be greeted at the door with, “And you can take those clod-hoppers off as well, Matey!”

Number 8

‘Getting On My Wick’

Meaning: Annoy me; get on my nerves.

Usually heard during weekends and school holidays, especially Wimbledon fortnight. Alone, my brother and I were tolerable. Together, we were little shits.

“You two are getting on my wick. Go to the park!”

Number 7

‘You’ve Blotted Your Copy Book’

Meaning: To do something that makes other people trust you less.

In our case, it was any minor misdemeanor at home or at school. Ink and blotting paper were still a thing in the 70s so I took it quite literally until it was explained to me…

Number 6

‘Away With The Fairies’

Meaning: Not facing reality; in a dreamworld.

Where Mum thought I always was…

Number 5

‘Guts For Garters’

Meaning: A threat of a serious reprisal.

“If you come home late, I’ll have your (varying expletives) guts for garters!”

This saying probably originated from the Middle Ages where they liked to disembowel people and stuff.

Number 4

‘I’ll Give You..’

This one was where, whatever we said to Mum, she would turn it back on us.

Me “I’m bored”

Mum “I’ll give you I’m bored!”

Me “Yeah, in a minute, Mum.”

Mum ” I’ll give you in a minute!”

Me “Why?”

Mum “I’ll give you why”

You get my drift?

The variation on ‘I’ll give you is I’ll give it you.

Or on hearing me WHISPERING an expletive..

“I’LL BLOODY WELL GIVE IT YOU IN A MINUTE, MY GIRL!”

It meant a wollop on the backside so at this point I’d fly out out through the back door flicking Mum the V’s from inside my coat pocket. She rarely caught me but I would ALWAYS return to find my Jackie mag cancelled, damn it.

Number 3

‘Because I Said So’

That’s why.

Number 2

‘The Pits’

Meaning: the WORST possible person, place, or thing.

In this case, my brother’s bedroom.

Mum to Dad “His bedroom is the bloody pits! Records as coasters and unidentified life-forms in cups? That’s it. I’m on strike!.”

To be fair, it WAS a pit. We’re talking MAJOR BIO-HAZARD here.

Number 1

‘I’ll Swing For You’

I think I have the album somewhere. Or is it Swing When You Are Winning? Anyhoo. Initially I took this literally and pictured Mum having a fun time on the swings in the local park. I thought this was DEAD FUNNY, albeit highly unlikely. However the imagery didn’t match her frowny expression, so I came to realise that it meant that I’d done something wrong.

WHOOOOOPS!

Often, a minor expletive would be inserted for dramatic effect so it became “I’ll SODDING well swing for you” Later on I came to realise the origin of the phrase came from HANGING, as hanging was still in fashion in my mother’s day. Mother saying she’d ‘swing’ for us meant that she’d murder us and be hung for her crime. However, she would never have actually murdered us. She wasn’t fast enough for a start. She came close several times – especially during her menopausal years when she was a bit, well, psycho.

Sometimes this phrase was used in jest but mostly we knew we were in deep poo if we heard it and we’d suddenly be incredibly helpful – like doing the dishes without being told or tidying our rooms, including Bro’s ‘pit’.

Occasionally, I catch myself muttering ‘Because I said so’ and I start twitching and have to go shout at some crisp packets as self-punishment. My mother may have passed on her early menopause to me, but there is no way I’m talking like her as well. Why? BECAUSE I SAID SO!

*twitch*

It pays to be as literal as possible when you have an autistic child, trust me. Saves time. Maybe you recoginse a few of these from your own childhoods? Feel free to share!

Next time, Dadisms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Reasons Why Ageing Sucks

 

Teeth

Dental hygiene plays an important part in gum health. Brushing ‘n’ flossing keeps Gingivitis at bay but for some people receding gums can be a matter of genetics, so if several members of your family have receded gums, the odds are that you will too. I know, it’s shit.

I have nice teeth but there’s more tooth on show than there used to be, hence, I am starting to resemble Shergar. The good news is that I still have all my own teeth at 47, which is fang-bloody-tastic considering my mother had a full set of false teeth by the time she was 50. WIN!

Skin

As we age, our skin loses elasticity – it’s called Elastosis.

It’s where all those years of lying on the lawn nuking yourself come back to haunt you with skin that looks like crepe paper. You know, CREPE PAPER? The crinkly stuff we used to make flowers with at school?

Another perk (not) of ageing is that skin becomes translucent which is why we start to resemble AA road maps by the time we are in our 50s. At this stage, PLEASE GOD, DON’T WEAR MINI SKIRTS!

That said, what the hell, it’s your life so wear what you like. Just don’t whinge when somebody turns your saggy backside into a GIF and gets it trending on social media.

Eyesight

Eyesight naturally deteriorates with age. Over time the lens hardens and you struggle to focus. You’re permanently squinting and find yourself holding everything at arm’s length, including your kids. You can’t thread needles anymore and you have to ask your family to read the small print on food packaging or you run the risk of giving them the shits.

You also have your Kindle font on size ENORMOUS.

So, you book an appointment at your local opticians for an eye-test and end up with a pair of specs (two in my case) that will cost you the same price as a week in Barbados, depending on what extras they con you into. However, the good thing about blurry eyesight is the instant soft focus you get without your specs on. YOU DON’T LOOK AS CRAP IN THE MIRROR!

Gimme a high-five!

Feet

Feet, like everything else, change with age. The changes in our feet are largely due to good old gravity and the pounding that they take over years.

The result is more hoof, than foot.

Corns, bunions, deformities, flat and calloused feet are par for the course when it comes to feet unless you REALLY look after them but most people will succumb to at least one of these things after decades of stuffing their foot neglect.

It’s safe to say that my own feet have hit their fugly stage. Boo. 😦

However, it’s my own fault because my idea of a pedicure is to cock my feet over the loo twice a month to cut my nails. No filing them or shaving the balls of my feet with a pumice stone/Black and Decker belt sander, depending on what state the skin is in.

When it comes to shoes, the mid-life woman is more into Pavers than six-inch stilettos and men naturally gravitate towards trainers, slip-ons and sandals. The problem is when they wear sandals with SOCKS to hide their ingrowing toe-nails. To such an offender, my advice is this:

Mate, you look a div. No human over the age of 5 should wear socks with sandals. Lose the socks OR the sandals. You’re welcome.

Hairy toes?

Don’t start me.

Farting

Two thirds of menopausal women report an increase in farting. Fact.

Being post-menopausal, I can vouch for this. I’m definitely more flatulent than before my ovaries pensioned themselves off. Some experts say it’s due to lack of oestrogen, while others say it’s due to an ageing digestive system. It’s not just women though, as middle-aged men are more prone to ‘bottom-blasting’ too.

We literally become old farts.

My theory is that when we reach middle age, most of us will have had some kind of health scare requiring a radical diet change, usually to include more fruit and veg. Combine an increase of fiber with a digestive system that’s buggered from years of trying to digest junk food and you basically start farting yourself into a coma. Am I wrong?

Growing old is a privilege, so we should be grateful that we’ve got this far. However, we can still have a laugh at ourselves, eh? Laughing is what keeps us young inside..

“…inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened.” Terry Pratchett – Moving Pictures

Creative Commons Images Via Pixabay

 

 

Alone in the Universe

I like to be alone.

I am completely comfortable in my own company, probably because it’s only when I’m alone that I can be myself. There’s no need to pretend to be normal. I can just be me.

When it comes to loneliness, people usually identify it with physically being on their own. Not me. I can be in a room jam-packed full of people and still feel incredibly lonely because I know I don’t belong. That’s my lonely.

I didn’t ask to be born. None of us do. We are here by choice or mistake and nine months later, out we pop, with no instructions on how to do life. We are at the mercy of those around us and all too often those people let us down.

Those people who had a duty of care to me at school let me down.

As a child I played alone until the age of five and then I had to attend school, or ‘shithole’ as I call it.

School was where I was expected to socialise and interact using skills which I didn’t possess or understand.

School was where I was bullied by children AND teachers.

School was where my sense of not belonging started.

It was clear that other children didn’t like me but I didn’t know why. I tried my best to be invisible but all that did was make me even MORE conspicuous. All I know is that I came to dislike myself too because of it. I couldn’t bunk off because I knew it was wrong. Nor was I able to express my struggles to my teachers or parents so I had no choice but to endure every hellish second of it until I got home.

Home was where I felt safe.

Home was where I was loved unconditionally.

Home was where I could lose myself in my obsessions.

Yet even with my closest family, I was unable to be me. I belonged, yes. My parents would have loved me regardless of anything but I didn’t know how to be myself in front of them. Most of the photographs from my formative years are of me looking away from the camera. That was me before life pressured me into being someone I wasn’t in order to try and fit in. Personas and masks became necessary in order for me to survive.

Something that is common to ALL humans is the need to belong and be accepted by others. I have a need to belong in some meaningful way just as much as anybody else and I want to leave this world having made a difference in some small way. Yet for most of my life, I have felt alien, like I don’t belong here. I breathe the same air. I am a human being in every respect of the word except that my brain is wired differently and people know you are different. They can sense it even if they can’t see it, like Will Smith in Men in Black, who can spot the aliens a mile off despite them wearing their ‘human suits’. That’s how it feels to be me sometimes – an alien wearing a human suit.

These past few months have been an eye-opener for me. The most important change is that for the first time in my life I no longer feel alone in this world. Why? Because there are 700,000 autistic people in the UK alone so add to the rest of the planets autistic population and that’s bloody shit-loads!

There is an autistic community where I don’t have to think, ‘Will this freak people out?’ before I ‘speak’ because people get it. Imagine. After ALL these years. I get to be my freaky self and other human beings say, ‘Yeah, I do that’.

AWESOME!!

I’m hoping that the therapy I am currently receiving will help to address the many years where I was treated badly simply for being me..

The girl who walked up to me one day and slapped me across my face for no reason at all? She was a coward. She was a big girl hitting a small girl – a bully who needed to be flanked by her cronies at all times. I blamed myself for so many years but I know now that I wasn’t responsible for what she did. Nor have I ever been responsible for the actions of others. The problem is with them, not me.

At some point I need to let the past go and move on in order to make the most of the time I have left. Four years ago I felt that nobody would ever understand how I feel. Then my son was diagnosed ASD and I knew that I was autistic too. On hearing my own official diagnosis, I got control back of my life. I know who I am now and why I am different and these next years of my life are going to be lived MY way. I may be in a minority but my life counts just as much as everybody else’s on this planet.

It always has.

I still like to be alone because that’s when I function at my best but liking to be alone and feeling alone in the world are very different things. That’s changed now. There are people in this world who get me. There are also people who don’t get me but are willing to understand and support me. So you see, I am not alone in the universe.

CC Image Via Pixabay