Surprised? I was!

Last week’s confessional was a surprise! I honestly didn’t think I’d want to put all of that down yet, but I have said in my opening gambit on the home page that I would be honest and that this is a journey, so that’s exactly what it needs to be. Maybe my experience and thoughts have helped someone else reading my posts out there somewhere. Maybe you experienced similar and needed a little bit of a guiding hand to give you the oomph to kick yourself up the bum and challenge your insecurities. Baby steps, please. Don’t do everything at once. You’ll become overwhelmed and shrink back into yourself.

I touched on a couple of things last week – being verbally bullied and my loss of identity. Both are semi-intertwined with each other in a way, as I still had residual confidence issues from being bullied. Which as we know will impact on how we feel about ourselves for years to come. I do feel that although I know the reasons behind my confidence hit, I may never be a really confident person. There will always be a nagging doubt behind the things I do or say. I do know though, that I can ‘fake’ it. This is a strong tool for some who are able to do it. If you can fake it you inevitably end up changing your mood, which can then begin to change your outlook on things.

I’m no scientist, and what works for me may not and will not work for everyone, but if it helps just one person then that’s enough in my book. I rarely open up about how I feel deep down, but now I think it’s time to get my big girl pants on as a friend would say and get over it. I sometimes think that by opening up about these things perhaps people may think I’m trying to say I’m depressed. I’m not. I have low days and struggle just like many others but my feelings on those occasions are not a complex minefield but rather more simplistic. I’ve not had enough sleep, or the kids are pushing every button possible or simply that I’m just not in the right frame of mind. I applaud those that have been able to face up to depression. In my eyes it takes a huge amount of inner strength for someone to say “I feel crap, today is not a good day and I can’t do this anymore. I need help”. Depression is a complex and difficult illness to understand. I implore anyone reading this who feel they may have it, or may be on the cusp of depression, please talk to someone. Your best mate, the coffee shop barista, stranger on the station anyone. But just tell someone. It might help. If your mate’s been texting you asking if you’re OK and you’ve completely ignored them. Text them back. They are looking out for you, and they care. It’s not about ‘manning up!’, so forget about all the male bravado, it’s about getting help and getting YOU back.

Where do I go from here?

My challenge to myself is to get myself back on track to becoming ‘me’ again. I will never be the ‘old me’. Those days are gone. We change a little, or a lot, as we age. Age makes us more understanding of what we really need and what we want and also, what we can achieve. Growing older has given me an edge, where I can be slightly more demanding of others and particularly of myself. I joke about turning 60 and dying my hair purple and getting a tattoo, buying a motorbike and sticking two fingers up to the world 😉. Actually, I might just dye my hair purple and get a tattoo anyway!

I absolutely love this quote by Roald Dahl. It’s from The Twits if you aren’t sure. I really feel it sums up a lot of how I feel I want to feel. Good thoughts make you glow. They show in your face. The slight crook of a smile appearing, the glint in the eye. It all shows you know. I look better when I feel better. Its simple psychology really. We lift our head, stand straighter and become more of a presence. When we feel unhappy the opposite happens, we look hunched over, we scowl and look as unhappy as we feel. 

What changed my viewpoint?

I didn’t have many mirrors in my old house as I just couldn’t stand looking at myself in them. I had such a negative view of myself, every time I did look in the mirror I used to pick out the flaws I could see. I was ugly, had a wonky nose, square jawline, fat face… the list just went on and on. I just couldn’t see anything nice about myself. I had a change of view when I met up with some friends I hadn’t seen for ages, some years in fact, and the one sweet friend of whom I’d always thought was the most confident admitted she’d always been envious of my hair. Then another said she felt annoyance at me as she was fed up of wearing false lashes and mine were long and full and I ‘just didn’t have to go through all the hassle everyday’. I felt better about myself for a moment or two, and then when I got home I actually looked in the mirror and thought to myself they had a point. I began to like my hair. It’s full of body and is healthy. I noticed that I didn’t look in the mirror and feel so negative. I was beginning to like myself again. A little bit more each day. There are still days where a negative gnome sits on my shoulder and whispers in my ear I’m ugly or some other flaw that I have but no so much anymore. Devils and angels are ‘so last year dahling’ as Patsy would say! Like I said it’s baby steps. It’s not being vain either, it’s about learning to have personal positivity, which includes body and mind.

Colour plays a big part in the impression we give, both to others and to ourselves. If I’m feeling happy then I tend to wear brighter colours and make an effort. When I feel miserable and stressed I wear darker more neutral colours without adding accessories. The days where I just feel low I tend not to look at what I’m choosing to wear, I just grab anything and rarely does it go with anything nor is it flattering and if I’m honest it probably isn’t allowing me to blend in with the background despite me wanting to do just that. Because it’s so badly thrown together it makes me stand out, perhaps giving others an opportunity to think ‘she doesn’t care’, or ‘what does she think she looks like’ or something to that effect. And, when I’m at that point, the days where I’m so totally not in the zone, I actually don’t care nor do I wonder what I look like so their thoughts are futile. I’m just not thinking about me.

I recently grabbed one of my old Trinny and Susanna books from the shelf when I was having a sort out and started reading it. I forget which one, it might have been ‘what your clothes say about you’ maybe. But, anyway, I laughed at the picture of a stressed, harassed mum carrying plastic carrier bags and dressed in beige (really not my colour!) with a child pulling her in one direction when she was trying to go in another, it was a set up shot of Trinny role playing but it made me think that I have been that mum on more than one occasion. A Tesco bag in one hand despite owning some fabulous family sized totes, along with kids coats, bottles and school paraphernalia in the other. Trying to coax the kids down from the climbing frame because ‘we really need to get home’… read ‘mummy just wants to go home and get tea ready, and have a sit down as she’s been busy all day cleaning up your mess again!’.

On the opposite page it showed a more serene, organised Trinny with same child pulling on her hand, but looking much more as though she could deal with it. It was all down to staging the perfect life, yes, I get that. But it was also about looking the part too. Well cut jeans, sensible but trendy shoes, jacket just in case you got caught in the rain and nice top underneath, oh.. and a good sized bag for all the kid bits! Although I’ll probably always be a little bit late in dropping the kids off, and always be slightly disorganised and forget their coat or water bottle or something but I can at least try to look the part. So my first challenge is come September, I will aim to get my head in the zone and be a little more put together for the school run. That way when some supply work does come along I’ll have a go to outfit readily available to grab and go.

Baby steps…

But, I’m going to start small. A little bit at a time. Beginning here, my aim for the next two weeks is to make sure I put mascara on. Everyday, without hesitation. I will make it a habit. Isn’t it a habit after fifteen days? I’m sure I read that somewhere. Anyway, small things to start my positive image habits off. I don’t see much point in trying to form a habit of wearing foundation or even my usual BB cream as it usually comes off on the masks we have to wear out. Although it’s swings and roundabouts at the moment as I don’t really like going out much and I like the freedom of having just sun cream on my face. Perhaps that little habit might have to wait a little.

I think I also need to look at forming an exercise habit as currently it’s a bit hit and miss. OK, I admit more miss than hit! I don’t like exercising and rarely enjoy it when I do it so I need to work up to doing this habit. gently does it. Twenty minutes a day to start off with and then work up to thirty after a couple of weeks maybe? I think I’m going to need to do a reward chart just like we use with kids! I really hate exercising! I’ll keep you updated on this one as I’m not even sure where to start.

Have you been an exercise star during lock down? Or have you been watching Joe from the sofa with a cuppa every morning during PE with Joe? Me? The latter 😂

I’m going to be honest with you, I lost my way a little…

Part of the idea of starting my little blog was to write about my life and style, or lack of as I have mentioned before. So, I thought I’d do a post looking at the style part. To do this I think this is the time where we delve into a bit of my background to start with and see where we go from there.

I’m not huge on being a girly girl. I like getting mucky and grubby, and rarely wear makeup or style my hair. And as for being stylish, well that’s something I’m still trying to figure out! I would love to be one of the school mums that look amazing everyday without looking as though they do. I know contradiction in terms, but what I mean is they look amazing without really having to put much of an effort in to looking good. We all know this isn’t necessarily the case as it often takes a little bit of planning getting stuff organised and ensuring a routine is in place. But these are the mums who seem to effortlessly glide onto the playground with finesse and no stress. They have the perfect outfit on for whatever they may be doing and just seem to have it all. I know that whilst this is happening on the outside, what is going on on the inside may be very different, but she hides it well! What I would like to achieve is something near this but be me. I’m not going to copy someone’s style as that might not be mine but I want to find my ‘style’ for me now and be confident in it. I know my style has changed. A lot. I wonder if I can get away with the boho floaty dresses I once coveted? I wonder if my love for Joules, Seasalt and Boden clothes is my way of being more countryfied? Simply to look good in a pair of well cut jeans and a tee would suffice at this point maybe? Only time will tell as I find my real ‘me’. What I do know is that I’m going to have to up my game a notch!

When I was younger I didn’t stand out, nor did I particularly want to. I was a bit on the geeky side at school and was never overly confident in my looks. I always shied away from the camera and if someone did manage to catch me on film you would find me hiding at the back in a crowd or have something with which I could semi-hide behind. After growing up a bit and looking back into why I felt like this and still do to some extent as just doing a selfie for me is agony! I realised that this all came from one person in school telling me I was ugly, and that if I didn’t have long hair I’d be mistaken for a boy. Bullying can come in many guises for me it was verbal. I was told I was fat – even though I was far from it and that my clothes just looked like I’d put a bin bag on. This was something that was a constant occurrence in my school days although I hid being bullied from everyone. I pretended nothing was going on and I tried to just blend in. I wanted to be friends with the popular kids as well as everyone else, but I just didn’t have the confidence to go up and say “hi”. Looking back at it now and knowing what I know, a bully is someone who is fundamentally insecure and needs the feeling of power over someone to make themselves feel better. Perhaps the person bullying me was insecure about their own looks and weight and decided I was an easy quiet target. Who really knows, I just hope they now genuinely feel better about themselves and not at someone else’s expense.

It has only been the past few years where I have had to become a stronger person due to a couple of ‘big’ moments, major surgery and a long term relationship change, that made me sit up and think and coupled with my experience of being a teacher which has enabled me to put it all into perspective and gain some of the lost confidence back. I’m what you might call a high functioning introvert. Being a teacher there is an expectation for teachers to be confident individuals with extrovert tendencies, there are in fact studies showing that many are actually mild introverts and do exactly what I do – put on a performance. Every time I step into a classroom and deliver a lesson I put on a show. When I work in industry I am the same everything I do is a performance, delivering training programmes to big business CEO’s and even top ranking civil servants. It all involves me putting on a brave face, a façade you might say and just taking a deep breath. The truth is deep down all I want to do is hide away from the world and blend in. I want to be the unseen.

Why do I do what I do then? I’m good at it, that’s why. I love teaching, imparting my knowledge and skills on to people who may benefit from it. Getting students to engage in whatever I’m delivering and them walk away thinking they learnt something useful. And, I will say it again I’m bloody good at what I do. If it means putting on a brave face and being a showman for a while then its what I must do. I can always shrink into myself afterwards.

Most of the time I come across as being chatty and confident. It’s a ruse. I’m dying inside. I feel I have to chat otherwise it might have an impact on something in the future. What? I don’t know. If you’re a mum collecting your kids and I chat to you, it’s because perhaps yes we could become genuine friends but it may also be that if I don’t my child may not get invited over for play dates and may miss out on social things. It could also be that I need to set a positive example to my children, if they see me being sociable then they will be confident enough to hold conversations with others and not shy away. I want what most parents would want for their kids, I would love for them to be happy and confident and be liked. I would love for them to be popular kids in school but for some this is too much and for my kids? I know they’ll have friends, I would just like those friends to be true friends to them. I don’t want them to go through what I went through.

I picked up a book called ‘Bigmouths, bullies and so called friends’ by J Alexander, initially for my son who has been bullied and still gets called names by one particular boy at school. He was a little too young for it when I first bought it but now I may encourage him to read it as I found it to be really good at identifying bullies and why they do what they do. I like the book as it puts it in kid speak and although was written a few years ago its still relevant. As daft as it may sound it really put a lot of how I felt and still feel into perspective.

There are many ways age has helped me. I don’t suffer fools gladly and will not take $#!% from anyone these days. I say things how I see them but I try not to do it in a manner that will cause upset. I prefer constructive criticism whether it’s me receiving or giving it, I can’t abide narcissism or arrogance. I try to follow the motto ‘if you can’t say anything nice then don’t say anything at all’. It’s not about being a snowflake, it’s being polite and considerate something that we seem to be lacking in this day and age. I don’t always get it right, but at least I try.

I’m beginning to feel happier about myself these days. I had a huge slump in confidence when I had my first child and the second one came along and my feelings still hadn’t changed. I often feel that I’m not me anymore. I seem to have lost my identity. I’m not Becks anymore, I’m just “Muuuummmmm”. Nobody of any interest, just someone who’s there to make sure kids are fed, watered and have clean clothes every day. I’m still after the holy grail of mums – going for a wee in peace! Although its not so much these days as the oldest is now eight and doesn’t follow me everywhere unlike my five year old who seems to be my shadow. I was a bit overweight before I had kids but after having them I put on even more weight which I convinced myself I could lose and didn’t, so now I have a ‘mothers apron’ belly and a backside you could park a motorcycle in, let alone a bicycle, which is the bane of my life! I did lose a stone and a half a year or so ago but that seems to have gone back on along with bad eating habits – snacking in the evening before bedtime!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I know that I need to lose weight not just because I would like to look better but I would like to be healthier. I have high blood pressure and scoliosis which are not helped by being overweight. My joints are hurting me all the time and I have no excuse I need to get my head in the right place and make a commitment to making weight loss happen. This isn’t going to be easy as I’m a comfort eater. I’m not one for sweets and chocolates. My nemesis is savoury snacks, especially crisps. Exercise is another key factor I need to start doing more of. I huff and puff just going up the stairs these days. I know clothes hang better when they are not straining over a huge tummy or ample derriere slim or not. I’m fed up of being tired all the time.

I knew I needed to get out of my slump and thought about my next steps. It’s not easy. Some people have a natural ease to looking good and make it seem so easy. I thought that if I joined an open style club community on Facebook for those over forty it may help to give me some of the old confidence back as most people were there in a similar boat to me. Initially this was quite good but after a while the group got huge and admins didn’t monitor comments as much and trolls started getting on there so I left. I then chatted to a dear friend about it as she had been one of the stylists in the paid club connected to the open community and she invited me to join her private style club. This has been a real eye opener for me. I have been learning lots about style, including how I find my own particular style to suit my personality, colouring and shape. There will be more on this another time I think, perhaps a series at some point (along with an interview or two with stylists). It’s a learning process and it’s nice to know I’m not alone in my quest. Yes, some of it is common sense and intuition but there is a sort of science behind it all. And, I like being part of something that cheers me up when I need a little pick me up. I join in the activities when I have time and often just dip in and out of the club when I have a few free moments. It’s not silly in any way, this is my little bit of me time, be it five minutes or half an hour. It makes me feel better about myself and it’s the medicine I need. I’m beginning to care about myself again. I’m beginning to feel there is a new me inside somewhere. I put mascara on occasionally and might look to at least colour co-ordinate an outfit. But, I’ll still have days where I’ll turn up to school wearing my scruffy clothes, no make-up and unkempt hair. Some weeks it will be more often than not. Sometimes I’m just not in the zone but hey, I’ll always chat just don’t be put off by the way I look I’m just having a bad day😉

Perhaps this may be you too? Maybe you’ve experienced similar feelings and don’t quite know where to go from here. There’s a part two to this coming next post if you’d like to find out a bit more. Feel free to comment.

Take care, stay safe

Becks xo