New Year, New Me? The truth, the whole truth and nothing but…

20 Jan

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So I have been neglecting my blog a little, well a lot since last year and I have missed it. I think sometimes you need to take a step back and have a look at the reality of life otherwise you will forget to live it. I have been living life like a lunatic, I got married in August and settled down to the suburban ideal. Weddings are not without their niggles and it is rarely the things that you stay awake worrying about that will cause problems on the day. It tends to be the unforeseen and unpredictable elements and people that rear their ugly heads on the day. In reality though you kind of have to just go with the flow, don’t expect too much of anything and you will never be disappointed. I have spent every single New Year that has been planned and anticipated for weeks with a sense of blah. The night will never be as electric and you will never look as enigmatic or the food will never be as good or the music as cool or the people as sexy as they were in your mind on December 29th or if that isn’t your bag then the porn you downloaded won’t be as hardcore as you anticipated or the popcorn you bought will be slightly stale…what I am getting at is that you will feel slightly let down and cheated by your over ambitious imagination. The same goes for your wedding day and life in general. I am not suggesting that you should remain cynical and uninvolved with the world ‘just in case’. The expectation of a fall is often followed by just that as we all know but you should be prepared to lose control, handover the reigns to the universe and think fuck it, what will be will be.

It has been a long and difficult process to get to this point of view, my battles with OCD and anxiety have been well documented in this blog and really I am a meticulous planner, I had lists and table plans and more lists and spent hours scouring the internet for florists and dresses and bridesmaid shoes (nearly killed me) I was a hideous bridezilla at the rehearsal ‘don’t speak to me, I just need you all to leave me alone or I will cry’ and the following dinner. But what I took from my wedding day was that if you believe that no matter what happens you will have an amazing time and it will be a truly magical day then it will be. You can breathe deep and just let go, it is a terrifying and liberating feeling. I promise. With an attitude like that you can spill so much wine over yourself that your fingers go pruney, chase Ukrainian tourists with video cameras from your wedding venue and forget to speak to at least half your guests without a care in the world (I also managed to break the strap of my dress during the first dance and bleed all over said dress pre photos)

My therapist told me that your truth is the truth. Obviously this is a very broad statement and if your truth involves deliberately hurting others or anything illegal then perhaps you should skip this section but widely speaking if you are happy and content with your lot then you have enough. That is what makes us all so unique and it leads to a wonderful place where nobody can really alter your reality. There are certain papers that I no longer read and certain people that I don’t associate with because their influence lead me to feel badly about my looks, finances, life choices etc. I have been led to think that I am not thin enough, rich enough or successful enough by outside elements but if you can believe that you have plenty then you do, if you believe you are good at your job then you are, if you believe that you are beautiful then it is true and if you believe that the world is going to the dogs then it is. It works both ways and the truth is a very powerful thing.

What I am trying to say is, that in this day and age when life is so stressful and expensive and our expectations of the future are either very high or very low it is important to remember that being happy, being content and being a dignified and decent person is enough. If you know these things to be true then the character of life; the excitement, the pain, the unexpected detours and the heartache, the wins and the losses are what makes it all so special…just like the drunken arguments, the ruined shoes and the tears of joy on your wedding day.

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A Letter

8 Apr

I haven’t written a blog since before Christmas, in the last few weeks a few things have happened and I wanted to share something. I will set the context first. I suffer from anxiety and have for a year or so and I am starting to get better and this has caused a lot of problems with my dad as the past has a lot to do with the way I feel at the moment. I had an argument with my Dad, sort of, over Easter. It was the last and biggest in a long line of issues that have caused many spells of not speaking. I haven’t seen him or been in contact in any way since so I wrote him a letter to tell him how I felt about the things that have happened in the past 15 years that have led us to where we are today. When I read it back I realised that the things I had spoken about in the letter to my father were about me and the pressures I have put on myself as much as they were about him. I found it very therapeutic so I wrote a letter to myself too.

I decided to share it with all of you because most things written in the media for men and women is designed to make us feel bad so that we will go and buy the products that will ‘cure’ our ills. We are too fat, buy the diet pills. We are not fabulous enough, buy the bag. We are too old, buy the wrinkle cream. It has taken me a long time to realise that in reality you don’t need anything. Success and happiness are relative. I have stopped reading the paper and magazines at recommendation of my shrink and I have started paying attention to real life.  

Bare in mind that I may not believe everything I write in this letter but I do my best to read it often and take it on board. I hope it might have some affect on your life. Be kind to yourself.

To You,

Life is very hard at the moment, you are stuck between the comfortable misery that used to be life and moving forward to getting better. It seems super difficult and confusing right now because part of you wants to stay in the familiar drives and expectations of people that you have become used to. But the other part, the strong and clever part would like to step into the future where it is OK to be you. Who has the right to put boundaries on who you are and what is right or wrong. 

Things to remember are:

You are a nice person, apart from some petty theft in the past, you have never done anything that would be considered bad. You care about people, you work hard and even if you don’t you are not a bad person. You are still valuable and sometimes you need to realise this and put yourself first. You are important and just as important as everyone else. Stop putting their needs before yours. 

Also, some people are not very nice-this may be because of their own history but you must accept that this is the case because it will make life more kind and contented to understand that no matter how nice you are some people will never return the favour. If you are able to see this then you will be able to to forgive people from the past and stop trying to please these people. If they don’t consider you to be their equal then that is their prerogative not yours. Always remember this; your opinions are valuable.Everything is actually fine no matter how overwhelming it seems. 

These things are truths:

  • Your family love you
  • You have a home
  • You have a brain, strength, bravery and spirit
  • You are funny and fun
  • Your other half loves you as much as you love him
  • life’s little surprises are to be enjoyed-being a victim will only make you more susceptible to catastrophe
  • You will not end up penniless or homeless. No matter what happens life will end up working out
  • The worst has already happened and you coped brilliantly
  • Success is personal, as long as you feel your life is successful it is unnecessary to compare it to others. No matter how rich, thin, funny, talented you are there will always be someone to be jealous of.
  • Jealousy will not make you happier. Being content with who you are and what you have will leave room for you to grow and to see the opportunities available.

Finally

  • You are capable and beautiful.
  • A size 10 is not fat! Eating is fun and should be enjoyed, don’t feel guilty!

 

Everything, EVERYTHING is within your control and capability

Lots of love You.xxx 

Love, Lies and Eastern Europeans; A Practical Guide to Romance

6 Dec

My first trip to Liverpool

I am still relatively new to the area where I live (2 years and a few weeks) I love this city but I came here by accident really. If you believe in fate then that could be held accountable I suppose. Moving here was potentially the most stupid thing I have ever done.
I met a man in Brighton we became friends and then he moved back home to Liverpool. Within 3 months I had started a long distance relationship, ditched my job and my flat and the life I had made for myself, eventually moving 300 miles to a city I had only visited a handful of times to move in with this person. It all seems impulsive and romantic but in reality it could have blown up in my face and left me jobless and homeless, full of regrets. I would never advise somebody to do it because there are very few success stories in this category. The best advice I would give anyone considering a similar move is so far from romance it is ridiculous. Remain sensible. This is laughable given the context but when it comes to any relationship you have to tell your emotions to just shut up for a second. Being sensible is not sexy or alluring but it is a bloody good way to protect yourself. I had to brush away all the Hollywood ideals I had about love and romance and decide that in reality life can be a lot less shiny. Despite being bombarded by ‘reality’ tv as a western society we are so willing to believe the rubbish we see in books and films. The success of Twilight is a great example of the nonsense we will devour. Why do we do it? Because we are hopeful and because at the moment Great Britain ain’t so great so we throw ourselves into a world where everybody is beautiful and love conquers all. This is preferable it would seem to a world where everybody is poor and depression conquers all.

A year before moving I had been well and truly screwed over by a boyfriend. It wasn’t what he did to me it was what I allowed to happen. I am sorry to tell you this but in relationships we allow a lot of things to happen to us, not necessarily consciously but we let people treat us a certain way based on how we feel about ourselves and the preconceptions we have about relationships. When I look back at the sort of shit I let him get away with I am astonished. He lied, outrageous and unbelievable lies in order to see his ex girlfriend. I once believed that he had been held captive by a group of Eastern Europeans in a house not far from his flat (I KNOW!!!!) He claimed they hadn’t taken his phone or IPod because they were too old and that they had let him go because it was ‘nearly christmas’

I believed that. I also believed that he went to band practice every week despite the fact that he couldn’t sing or play an instrument and that a few condoms went missing every now and again because he carried them on his person just in case he and I got carried away. We never did.

My mind is blown that I was cool and unquestioning of these things, even when he let me borrow his phone and I saw hundreds of messages from one girl I still didn’t twig. The heart is a blind and insanely loyal creature if you allow it to be. Nobody wants to get hurt and we are very good at putting our blinkers on to prevent that.

So when I moved to Liverpool on a whim I left my rose tinted glasses at home and took a practical approach. I paid the deposit on our flat so that if we broke up I had a little financial security, we got two bedrooms in case it didn’t work out we could still live as friends. I made sure I went out and met people so that I would have a support network that didn’t involve his friends. It all seems very morbid and negative but I still do it today. Our finances are combined and he pays the rent whilst I pay the living expenses but anything more long term like credit cards or overdrafts are kept separate because I don’t believe he should be saddled with my debt if we split up and vice versa. Luckily we are very happy and settled. He has been an amazing influence on my life and moving to Liverpool kick started my modelling career again. I haven’t had to use any of the precautions I set up upon my arrival which is great but I have to say that it takes the pressure off. I am secure in the knowledge that we are in it for the long term (we have a dog that will live until we are 40) but I am also aware that if it all goes tits up I have a back up plan. It’s hardly ‘Casablanca’ but I always thought Rick was a bit of knob for letting Elsa mess him about like that anyway.

Body Beautiful

27 Nov

Body image is something that I find mind boggling. Recently a couple of people have told me that I have the perfect figure. This is met with a look I wish I could show you but mainly expresses the fact that the recipient is clearly quite insane. I am tall, with long legs, no bottom or breasts really to speak of, a bit of wobble in the middle and the longest arms I have come across. I do not consider this combination of attributes to be anywhere near perfection. In fact my idea of the perfect woman is a good 3 inches shorter than I am with a flat stomach, big boobies and a bit of junk in the trunk all tied together with taut, tanned flawless skin. Nothing like the soft, creamy complexion I have that led my family to give me the nickname ‘milky pud’. However I would not change anything these days. Believe me I have looked into a tummy tuck or a bit of lypo but it is my belief that once you start messing with your body it is a slippery slope to plastic fantasticville. The other day my mum was debating whether to buy a 17 grand kitchen. Lovely if you have the money and you need a new kitchen but I swiftly alerted her to the fact that if you have a top of the range kitchen then the rest of the house will look, well, shit in comparison. In my opinion the same applies to your body. If you have a top of the range stomach those thighs will start to look a bit shoddy. Once the thighs are state of the art the breasts that looked fine before this renovation will start to look old and worn out…nightmare.

I watched something the other day about young people embarking on plastic surgery and was really gutted to see a girl who had a nose job come out of it looking rather plain and a little too ‘normal’ for my liking. People who know me well know that I am partial to a big konk. I find that there is something regal and handsome, in both men and women, about a roman nose with a bit of a hook. I personally do not have one so perhaps living with it on a daily basis is different but it is your heritage and your legacy. It shows where you have come from and the people that created you. Its is quite a beautiful sentiment.

I look identical to my Mother and my Grandmother (if 50 years younger) as the men in my life love pointing out. I am the same shape facially and physically as they are and that is not longer and issue. We all put on weight around our waists but have very defined cheek bones and shoulders no matter what. We all have tiny wrists, delicate hands and enormous eyes. We all have a slight over bite which braces has failed to correct in any of us and I think that drastic measures to change any of that would be a shame. Believe me I have tried to become more delicate and feminine. I have tried to lose the belly to the extent that I ended up as a patient in an eating disorder unit (bulimia with anorexia nervosa tendencies) but I have come to the conclusion that I look like the women who have loved me and nurtured me. The women who with the help of my grandfather drove from Africa to England when my Mother was 2 to set up a new life, the women who worked in hospitals and schools to make the world a better place, the women who knitted and sewed and cooked and cleaned and gave me life.

The beauty of it is that I don’t actually have to do anything differently to look like these inspirational and clever ladies because I already do so I can stop beating myself up for not looking like Kelly Brook and get on with liking myself.

So pass the cake and the wine and lets have a big old love in. Why would you want to strive to look like Cheryl Cole when you look like you?

A train ride and a pat on the back.

19 Nov

I have been thinking and talking a lot about journeys this week. I come from a background that has been touched by agoraphobia. My great grandmother was terrified of the world for as long as I knew her and refused to leave the house. As a child I had the same issues. I found the unpredictable nature of the outside very scary and refused to go out without parents until quite a late age. This fits into the physical side of journeys. When I was first diagnosed with OCD and phobic anxiety last year I really struggled with even the shortest of journeys. One of the major things that set off crippling panic attacks that occasionally resulted in loss of conciousness was being to far away from home or being in an environment that was too open, too out of my control. After the first horrible panic attack (on a train from Manchester to Liverpool) I really struggled to leave the house for several months. Not ideal at 24 years old with a job that was at least an hours commute each way. Even recently I had a wobble on a ten minute train journey to a catwalk rehearsal. I don’t try to look to deeply into why this happens. I know the causes are a lot to do with my need to be in control of a situation and as we all know public transport can be a real pain in the arse when it comes to reliability, for some reason this rocks my psychological boat.

In my experience, journeys can be fairly traumatic. They can also be really wonderfully, positive. A journey in the literal sense is travelling from one place to another, I have moved from my home town to London then fours years later to Brighton and then all the way up to Liverpool, quite a trek, 300 miles or so I believe. I have also come along way personally. Yes I have had a pretty shitty time overs the last year or so but as things start to look up I can peek back and think wow I have come a really long way.

I think in life we spend our time looking to the future and planning our next step. It isn’t particularly sexy or cool to look back and think well done you, look what you have made for yourself. If life is a struggle at the moment and you have some how wound up in a bit of a mess think about the things you have achieved, no matter how small.

I spent my time beating myself up about not being able to do my lovely, exciting fashion industry job. I beat myself up about not being able to go for a drink and for ending up on the dole and skint. However, I have lost 5 stone since I was 16, become a model and kept it off over 9 years, I have moved 3 times in 7 years and every time I have made new friends and a new life for myself. I have managed to find the marbles that I lost last year and put myself back together. I have an amazing relationship, a fabulous Victorian period flat with super high ceilings, a group of friends that I actually like rather than a vacuous bunch of rich bitches (another story all together) and I did all this, by being myself I can look back over my journey and tip my hat to fate for the little bit of help I was given but most of all I can feel really proud that I have achieved this much so far and if you have managed to build yourself a little life however dull or insignificant it might seem, who knows what you might end up doing in the future!

It sounds ridiculous but even if I end up on the streets in the future nobody will be able to take away what I have already done. That is really bloody comforting.

Are you feeling brave?

9 Nov

I have been thinking about this a lot whilst cleaning the bathroom today. It really is all glamour sometimes. The common saying is that you should do something that scares you everyday. I think regularly people assume this means jumping out of a plane or asking someone to marry you on a daily basis. In my opinion I think that bravery can be a very small and personal action. This next little bit is to be read with caution because often bravery is misconstrued as a negative reaction. I will begin by being brave myself, set a good example and all that.

About a year ago I had to give up a really great job with a huge international company. I was a go-getter I had been noticed by the big bosses and promoted. I had to give up because I had what is known in the psychology world as a nervous breakdown. Believe me when I heard that diagnosis I went all Alan Partridge ‘Stop saying I had a breakdown’ (for all you fans)

I did not feel very brave at all when I walked away from my career in a time when it is so difficult to get a job, let alone a bloody great one. I felt like I had given in, like my anxiety had won. If anything I felt weak and hopeless. However, looking back I now see that stepping away from my job, stepping off the edge of the cliff into unemployment for my own well-being was actually an incredibly brave decision to take. There will be other jobs but I was a horror to live with and the twice daily panic attacks were ruining my life. Something had to give and choosing what it was took guts.

Writing that down and knowing that it will be read by people is scary. As I said a personal act of bravery may be viewed critically by an outsider. I am sure there were many people that couldn’t believe I was choosing to be on benefits rather than earn a wage and saw my decision as being selfish and counterproductive but when it comes to being brave you need to expect a little backlash. When my mum called and said she had been diagnosed with cancer and would be going into hospital that week for an operation, I asked how long she had known and she said a couple of months but hadn’t told anyone as she didn’t want to worry anyone. I was unbelievably angry, I couldn’t forgive her for keeping it to herself and then dropping this bombshell. When I looked at it really honestly a little while after, I understood how much it had taken for her not to tell anyone what was going on. I imagine there were days she wanted to scream but she kept it together because she is a mother, a wife and a teacher. Bravery comes in very different guises.

I walk down a catwalk or stand in front of a camera without a care but last night I walked into the bar for the first time since I had left at short notice and then expressed a fairly negative opinion about the staff on my blog (see ‘A RANT’) I was shaking and felt sick but I needed to do it because the way I had left was fairly cowardly and I care about a lot of the people there, I also needed to show I wasn’t embarrassed of my opinions on the way the member of staff I had spoken about was treated. I came away feeling very proud of myself, I hadn’t apologised but I had built some bridges.

So do it! Take a little chance, I think that life is what you make of it and if you spend your time trying to throw yourself out of a plane or propose to someone in order to face your fears you might just miss those everyday opportunities. Tell the person who pushes into the queue ‘excuse me I think I am next’ or text somebody you miss but are too ashamed to contact because you have left it so long.

In my opinion, in order to be brave in the truest and most positive sense you need to question your motives. If you are doing something because you feel it is right and moral then go for it but if you are using ‘bravery’ as an excuse to act in a way that is detrimental to others without any positive wish or prospective outcome then just hang on a second buddy, you aren’t being brave, you are probably just being a dick.

A Waffle. I think there was a point.

1 Nov

I like to think that I write about things that people have some connection to, that we are all involved in. This week I came up with several ideas but settled on perception, the way we perceive each other and are perceived but also what we do with these perceptions. I can once again only really speak from experiences I have had.

So as a model I spend an awful lot of time being judged on what I look like obviously. Which means I spend an awful lot of time worrying about what I look like, whether I am thin enough, pretty enough and so on. I stand in front of people or I send pictures to people who then judge whether I fit the brief or if I AM thin enough or pretty enough. They decide if my hair is too short or I am too tall, if my breasts are too small or my walk is too relaxed (yep). Basically I become just another element of advertising like the font size, I am reduced to statistics and shoe size. I can be dismissed within 30 seconds because my waist is an inch too big. It is really bloody tricky to maintain a level of identity and to make sure that you don’t take these worries into your everyday life. When I retired briefly I had control over the cut and colour of my hair for the first time in 2 years. Even now as I sit here having shaved part of my head in a moment of madness I am willing it to grow back for a hair modelling job on the 12th.

I judge people too of course. We all judge people. I moved to Toxteth having lived in Chelsea and Brighton. I didn’t really have much contact with hard-knocks and when I moved to Liverpool my Dads first reaction was ‘It’s not very posh round there’ Tocky was a wild choice but I needed to thicken my skin and learn a bit about people who didn’t own second homes and yachts in Italy ‘George Clooney lives just round the corner’ or consider red Ferraris the common Ferrari. Consider that when I came to Liverpool I hadn’t been into an Aldi and had more than once used the term ‘undesirable’ so yes I was by all accounts a bit of an ignorant dick at times.

Liverpool is the home of the working class mentality and I have come to realise that these people who have to scrimp and save to get by are really proud and opinionated people. They stand by what they believe in which is really admirable and to be honest are probably a lot better off than most financially because they don’t spend money they don’t have on Mulberry handbags in order to maintain appearances…ahem. The downfall of anyone brought up in a self titled ‘middle class home’ is that we have developed an innate sense of put up and shut up. It is embarrassing to cause a scene despite the fact that someone has been openly rude to you. A prime example of this is when walking the dog a woman passing by who had no reason to get into conversation with me, my dog was nowhere near her or her kids told me to put him on his lead. People who know my dog know that he is the softest, most ridiculously submissive creature in the world when it comes to the park. He was at that point lying on his back with his legs in the air because a labrador puppy had approached. We had a small interaction where she was very rude and condescending and I said ‘I appreciate your advice but I don’t agree’ a statement that my mum later applauded. What I wish I had said was simply FUCK OFF. I stereotyped the people around me as a certain kind of rough or lower class but I wish I could be more like them at times, I would like to have a bit more self belief. I wish I stood up for myself more (I am learning!) the way a lot of people round here do. Oh believe me there are some baddies and I am not saying that everyone is like that on Merseyside or that I even believe in class definition, it is just an observation.

What gets me through these harrowing days of being told I am not right for a shoot (immediately a little siren goes off in my brain ‘TOO FAT TOO FAT’) is to remember that regardless of upbringing or achievements or financial situation or the size of the competitors thighs we are all people with dignity, humility and morality and should be treated that way and if you don’t have those things then you deserve a good, hard judging!