Archive | July, 2013

You are not your weight, high or low

30 Jul

Over the last few weeks, I’ve noticed a worrying trend: I’ve seen at least four women apologising for trying to lose weight. All four are plus size bloggers, and seem to feel that wanting to lose weight is betraying the work they and their colleagues have done to advance fat acceptance and body positivity.

This needs addressing. Body positivity is about being happy with the body you have, not carrying on having a body you are unhappy with because you’re worried people will think you’ve ‘sold out’.

I understand all the issues around this, and after chatting on twitter it seemed I wasn’t the only person to notice this. The same couple of things popped up as I chatted more, and it all boiled down to the following;

  1. It might look as if I think there is something wrong with being fat
  2. It gives ammunition to people who think underneath our positivity we’re all unhappy with being fat – “I’m scared people will accuse me of not loving myself & my body.”

Neither of these arguments hold weight, and here’s why – being body positive, as we should all know, is nothing to do with what other people think. If we don’t listen to what they say when we’re trying to love our fat bodies, why should we listen to what they say when our body is changing?

If someone puts on weight, I say nothing, and if they lose weight, I say nothing. Giving notice to either of these events means I notice their body, and not them.

A body positive attitude is taking control and ownership of YOUR body, and if you’re not happy with it being above a certain weight, it is actually OK to do something about it. If you’re not allowing yourself to eat in a certain way because you’re concerned about how a group of people will react, then aren’t you just being bullied into looking a certain way by a whole new group of people?

Eight years ago, I lost 8 stone, on purpose, because I wanted to adopt a baby. My goal weight would mean by BMI was still at the top end of average, and my goal clothing size was an 18. I was told I had to lose weight to adopt a baby, and at that time that was what I wanted, so I did it. I didn’t make any apologies about it, and I shared what I was doing a lot, mainly because I was excited about being a mother, and also because I didn’t realise losing weight wasn’t as difficult as I thought.

I didn’t end up adopting a baby, obviously, and I ended up putting back on all the weight. I was kind of annoyed about it, but only because I had some kick-ass size 20 clothes. During the whole weightloss thing, I loved my body for the first time in my whole life. It wasn’t because it was smaller, but because I OWNED it. It was fit, vital, and in perfect working order, as well as being a size 20.

Because of that experience, I know it’s possible to be fat and healthy, and I know I’ll always love my body. I still love it now it’s much fatter, because I know it’s mine, it works, and without it I couldn’t do the things I love.

Recently the doctor told me I need to stop drinking and lose weight, or I’m going to die young. There was a time when he would say that, and I wouldn’t care, but this time I did. I don’t want to die yet, I have loads more stuff to get done. I have to finish that colouring book project for a start… So I stopped drinking, and I’m eating better, because I have to lose weight. It’s not that I want to, but I will, because my weight doesn’t define me.

‘No diet talk’ to me means I don’t want to hear how fat you think you’ve got, even though you still fit into a size 10, because that makes me think you’re judging me for wearing a size 28. Trying to lose weight doesn’t mean you have to be one of those people who talks about low fat food, but it also doesn’t mean that if you do talk about it you’re perpetuating diet culture. Telling me you found something which tastes really good and is low in fat is about health, not weightloss or size.

I love my body now – and I’ll continue to love it if it expands, and when it contracts. If this is betraying some fat pride logic, so be it

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this too – comment below, or tweet me.

Ten Minute Sketching

26 Jul

tiddles

This is Tiddles. She’s one of our cats, as you’ll know if you follow me on social media.

In the evenings, I watch films with my husband, and I doodle around on a sketchpad. Not every sketch is great. I think this is one of the reasons people don’t like to try and draw, because they think it’ll be rubbish. I’m sure I’m not in a minority of 90% of the stuff I draw never being shown online, let alone being scanned in and sold or used for anything.

sketchyI drew this of Tiddles in about 5 minutes while she sat there – I had to do it quickly, or she would have moved. I also took a photo, just in case she did. Which she did, that’s why her face and paw are so weird. Some of the orange is more pronounced because I was talking Ian through Tiddles’ noticeable markings.

I like this sketch the best out of all the other five minute sketches I did – I think I did 6 or 7 – so I worked it up into a finished sketch. I’m not trying to be patronising explaining this process by the way, I’m just talking you through my own creative process.

I read that a gallery somewhere are having an exhibition of postcard sized art for The Big Draw, so I decided to redraw it to fit inside a 4″ by 6″ rectangle. I forgot the theme was ‘Drawing Tomorrow’, but let’s forget that bit.

tiddyompompom

So this is the finished piece of artwork – it took me 30 minutes to do this one, but it took me 60 minutes to do all the previous sketches as well. Each one was similar, it was like my hand was practising the strokes I’d need to do in this finished one. Of course, I’ve already drawn Tiddles a lot, because she’s a willing model, so I know how her haunches are shaped, where her markings are, what shape her ears are. I realise this makes me sound ridiculous.

All in all I worked on this for 90 minutes – but I could have easily done a sketch in 5 minutes, on a lunch break. Every line on every page is practice, even if it doesn’t seem it at the time.

Playtime

25 Jul

I met someone called Lawrence last week – he came to pick up Ian’s old wheelchair to use it for some robot project Emma is doing, which we had a brief chat about. One thing he said in passing really stuck with me though, and I’ve been formulating this blog post in my head ever since.

Lawrence said he did a workshop with some adults, and in order for them to get involved, he had to sort of cover up the fact that they were playing. They didn’t want to engage in an activity which wasn’t productive, so he didn’t refer to it as playful, even though it was.

It reminded me of how children are treated, and how in order to get them to do anything we usually cover up the learning factor, and present it as playing – in order to get children to read, we have books with pictures, we learn songs with counting aspects to learn to count.

But where does the switch come? When does it happen that we no longer want to play, but we want to be productive? Does that ever happen, or are we forced into it?

At school, playtime is built into school hours, not just to give children a break from working, but also because it’s important for children to socialise – I often hear friends with young children saying they’re sending them to nursery for this very reason. Children need to build friendships in order to become social creatures, and in doing so they become better prepared for life as an adult.

Another friend told me how she was berated at work for ‘chatting when she should be working’ – the fact she works in social media, and was talking to a client was seemingly ignored by her boss, who presumably thought she was having too much fun (you’ll be glad to know she’s left that job now). Building a relationship with clients by being friendly and engaging is exactly what playtime at school was preparing her for, and yet it wasn’t being valued by her boss.

When I worked in an office as a temp, the health and safety notes told me to take ten minutes away from my desk every hour – it didn’t say what to do, but colleagues would often used the time to have a smoke break or go to the toilet. I didn’t smoke at the time, so I’d usually wander outside and sit somewhere writing or drawing. This didn’t really go down very well, but I never understood why. The smokers weren’t told not to smoke, and as long as I got the work done, did it matter if I doodled for ten minutes?

Children have playtime scheduled into their working day, and it’s seen as a vital part of their development, but once you get a job, it’s frivolous to play, almost as if adults don’t develop beyond the age of 18. However, we continually develop, and we should be allowed to do so, otherwise we stagnate.

I firmly believe that having a creative break away from work will make employees more productive in the long run, because they will be allowed to develop and grow, as well as being happier in their working hours. I understand that some jobs mean it’s difficult to have a ten minute break at all, let alone once an hour, but it doesn’t mean you should just work through whatever break you manage to get.

There is a tendency to think, ‘it’s only ten minutes, what can I do in that time?’ – well, I’m going to give you some ideas. In the next few weeks, I’m going to time myself doing creative things, and see what it’s possible to do in ten minutes. If it persuades just one person does something creative in their tea break instead of reading Grazia*, then it’s worth it.

* other brain rotting** magazines are available
** the opinions of Pesky are not necessarily*** correct
*** usually

Opening the family can of worms

5 Jul

When I was about 20 I started to trace my family tree. I didn’t finish doing it, and I eventually had to throw away the roll of wallpaper I ended up having to write it on. Everything got very complicated, and my parents ended up telling me I never should have opened that can of worms.

Let’s rewind.

I grew up with both my parents, my two older brothers, and I had a good childhood. Dad worked 6 days a week, Mum worked part-time. Our Grandparents had unfortunately all died before I was born – I think some were alive when my brothers were born, but I’m not sure. My Auntie Freda came over every Saturday whilst I was growing up, and my Uncle Bill came every Sunday – they were Mum’s brother and sister, and as a child even I could tell they were both a lot older than her. My Dad had a sister called Wendy who popped over at the weekend to pick up a chicken (my Dad was a butcher), and Mum’s best friend Val also popped over for her chicken every Saturday.

We also had family in Wisbech who we didn’t see very much. Any time we had to visit Auntie Phil, we moaned and carried on, because her house smelt of cabbages and we didn’t like the journey. We were always made to go at least twice a year though. She was another of Mum’s siblings, and a lot older than her.

I can’t remember when I found out Mum was adopted. I think I probably asked her one day why her brothers and sisters were so much older, and she told me. She also shared a lot with me about how my Grandma never made a secret of the fact she adopted Mum, and would taunt her with ‘being sent back to the orphanage’ if she was ever naughty. I don’t think Mum had a particularly good childhood – she didn’t say much more about it, but being so much younger than your siblings, as well as having someone who adopted you but also seemed to not really want you can’t have been easy.

My Uncle Bill doted on my Mum, and right up until he died, me and my brothers were always his favourites. He would babysit for us, wrote the most incredibly thoughtful cards for our birthdays – just thinking about his spidery looping handwriting right now is making me sad he’s gone – and had photos of us all around his house.

The Good Friday when I was 8, we arranged to go and see Auntie Phil because it was school holidays. I really didn’t want to go and we all complained. We were shouted down by Mum, and I said I’d go but only if I could ride my bike up the road for a bit first. I learnt to ride my bike really late, and only mastered it a couple of weeks before, so it was all still a bit exciting. I was allowed to go to Lisa’s house on my own but no further, so I rode to Lisa’s, and then did a big skidding turn in the road to come home again.

Unfortunately, I fell off my bike, and trapped my leg weirdly underneath. I couldn’t move, not only because I was trapped, but also because of the pain. Finally, a van started driving down our road, and I really thought I was going to get run over. Luckily, a man got out the van and recognised me as ‘Gilly’s Daughter’ (I look exactly like my Dad, as well as every single person in Spalding knowing Gilly) – he picked me up, put me in the van, and took me home.

Mum didn’t believe there was anything wrong with me, and thought I was doing it to get out of going to Wisbech. She made me walk up and down the hallway, wincing in pain, until eventually my brother convinced her I didn’t seem to be lying. We got in the car and drove to the local hospital, where Elliot and Mum carried me in awkwardly as I had finally refused to walk because of the pain. Mum begrudgingly allowed them to x-ray me, still not believing I had an injury, and it turned out I had a fractured femur (thigh bone). Worse still, because I’d been made to walk on it, the bone had broken, but then been pushed into itself by the pressure of standing up, so they had to pull my leg straight, and then put me in traction. I was told it was a week in traction for every year you’ve been alive, and so 8 weeks in traction loomed ahead.

My Mum cried and cried, apologising over and over, and then proceeded to never miss a day visiting me at about 4pm. It’s only as an adult that I can see she felt so guilty – as a child I never thought it was Mum’s fault at all. I don’t know what went on between Mum and Dad, but he cycled 16 miles every day to the hospital after work to see me, and then got a lift home in the car with Mum after 8pm.

A few months later, I got out of hospital, and after physio got back to walking normally. Then we found out Auntie Phil had a really bad heart attack. Mum never made that visit to see her, because I was in hospital, so she was really upset, and felt guilty, and wanted to see her at the weekend. I think I probably got a bit spoilt in hospital, and so I complained about going to visit her, but Mum had none of it, and insisted I went with her. My brothers by this time were old enough to stay at home.

Although she was out of hospital, Auntie Phil didn’t look good. She lived in a tiny council flat, and most of her children and Grandchildren were there – as a consequence it was jam-packed, especially as I believe she had about 30 Grandchildren. Mum seemed really sad and tense – I was just annoyed because I wanted to be at home drawing, and instead was sitting with a load of my cousins who I’d literally never met before, who are all older than me as well as being boys.

Suddenly Auntie Phil started to convulse. Everyone started shouting things and running at her, and it seemed like everything was in slow motion. I remember her eyes rolling back in her head, her mouth frothing, and then she slumped. I couldn’t bear to look at her, so after that I just stared at the fish tank – I remember that fish tank so clearly, even now.

The next thing I knew, Mum told me she had to take Auntie Phil back to hospital because she’d had another heart attack. I probably moaned and asked when I could go home, but she silenced me with a ‘look’ and said my cousins would look after me. As it was a Saturday, I sat in Auntie Phil’s flat, watching fish, for what seemed like hours, while my cousins drank beer and watched football on the television. Every now and again I’d ask when my Mummy was coming back, or the phone would ring and one of my cousins would say, ‘no news,’ to no one in particular.

Finally, Mum came back, and shouted at my cousins because no one had made me a sandwich, and then we drove home. We sat in silence for most of the journey – I can’t remember when she told me Auntie Phil had died, or whether I just guessed. All I cared about was going to Church Parade in the morning because I was carrying the flag for the Guides.

So the next morning I walked to Church as normal, and told them all my Auntie died the day before, because I thought it might get me some sympathy. When the vicar said we should pray for anyone who had lost someone, I felt a little thrill when the other Guides all looked at me, and I tried to look brave. I wasn’t really that upset I lost my Auntie, I never liked visiting her anyway.

After Church Parade, Mum had said she’d pick me up. When she was late, I thought I’d help her out by beginning to walk home – I knew that I’d probably pass her on the way and she could take me the rest of the way home. However, I made it all the way home without seeing her, and the car wasn’t in the driveway. I sat on the doorstep waiting for her to come back.

Finally I saw the car come round the corner. Mum slammed the car door, ran over and started shouting at me. I honestly couldn’t work out what I’d done wrong. She kept saying, ‘today of all days!’ and throwing her hands in the air. Uncle Bill followed her out of the car, came over and hugged Mum, and took her inside. He poured them both a whisky and orange, and she sat snivelling at the kitchen table.

Uncle Bill came over.

‘What on earth did you do that for, Chloe?’

‘What do you mean?’

‘We thought you’d been hurt or taken away!’

‘Well, Mum was late picking me up, so I walked home.’

‘We’ve been driving up and down for ages looking for you. Your Mum doesn’t need this, today of all days.’

‘I don’t understand what I did wrong.’

‘Chloe, her Mum died yesterday, she’s very upset.’

‘What are you talking about?’

‘Your Auntie Phil was your Mummy’s Mum, you knew that didn’t you?’

No, as it happens I didn’t. I was always told she was Mum’s sister. As it turned out, I’d watched my Grandmother die the day before. I felt so angry that no one had told me I had a Grandparent, whilst feeling guilty for being pleased she died so I could get sympathy at church. I felt guilty for every time I didn’t want to visit her, and even felt guilty for having broken my leg and therefore stopping my Mum from visiting her before she’d had the heart attack.

Since then, I’ve pieced together what I think must have happened from stories Mum told me, so some of this may or may not be true. Phil slept with a sailor called Herbert when she was 15, and because she was so young, her mother adopted Mum when she gave birth at the age of 16. Mum was brought up as Phil’s sister without knowing it was really her Mum, but was always told she was adopted. I don’t really know when Mum found out Phil was her birth mother, but I don’t think it was still while Great-Grandma was alive.

All the tension and sadness to do with Auntie Phil now makes sense. Mum felt she had to visit Phil at regular intervals, even though she hated the fact she’d been brought up as her sister. She was bullied and threatened by my Great-Grandma who loved to remind her that she wasn’t her own daughter, but not told until she was an adult that she was in fact related to her, as well as the rest of the family. To make a member of your family feel like a stranger is cruel and unusual punishment for daring to be born out of wedlock.

So this is the reason I finally threw away the family tree. All the cousins, all the shifting generations, marriages… it all became too complicated for me to simply draw on wallpaper. It seemed kinder to Mum to throw it away, and maybe get some peace.

GIVEAWAY!!

1 Jul

I’ve been having a clearout and have found a few bits and pieces so here… we… go!

The wonderful Sophie Wilson has been selling her cards and prints in my shop for about a year, and now I’m closing, she said I could keep the prints I have left and do what I want with them – so I’m giving them away!!

I have TWO sets of these Disney Princess prints left.

sophie giveaway

I’m sorry the photo is so rubbish, but I don’t want anyone to steal her artwork 🙂

LINK TO BE ADDED TO ETSY SHOP!

I also found this selection of stuff in a basket, with no idea of why, so I decided to give it away

giveaway

3 runners-up will get a craft kit, and another 2 runners-up will win the remaining stupid bejewelled glasses

Entry is via RAFFLECOPTER which I still don’t have an account for, so follow this link please

a Rafflecopter giveaway