Let’s Stop Self-Defecating (…yes, you read that right)

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Happy April Fool’s Day!  I don’t know about you, but I’m absolutely useless when it comes to playing practical jokes… and telling jokes full stop, to be totally and completely honest!  I either give the game away by giggling too soon or I screw up the punch line, and my go-to joke is the one about the panda who goes to a restaurant and eats shoots and leaves.  The one thing I am good at, however, is laughing at myself.  A couple of weeks ago, I managed to play the most ridiculous practical joke on myself while I was refilling a cook’s blowtorch.  When I (stupidly) decided to check whether it was working and pulled the trigger, the lighter fumes ignited and I was momentarily consumed by a ball of fire that not only burned my fingers but also singed off most of my eyebrows and a lot of my hair.  After the initial sobbing shock and cries of “my hair!!!” (and the call to NHS Direct to see if I needed to hop it down to A&E…) I did what I always do after I’ve done something stupid; I laughed long and hard over what an utter nob I was.

There’s nothing better than having a good ol’ chuckle, is there?  Even when times are tough having a laugh about it – y’know, a proper tear-streaming, snorting, rib-aching, gasping for air kind of laugh – is better than any kind of medicine.  And self-deprecation (or “self-defecation”, as I used to call it until someone stepped in and corrected me… yeesh…) is the one woman stand-up routine I’ve been performing since I can remember.  I slip into it so easily these days: if someone compliments my anything, I’ll launch head-first into a bit where I take out a metaphorical magnifying glass and hover it over every flaw I have and can think of.  Like, the dog hair clinging to my brand new black jeans, or my vampire skin that’s hilariously allergic to fake tan, that ketchup stain on my new shirt, my flat chest, my misbehaving hair and *tap tap* “Hey, is this thing on?”  I’ll downplay my own achievements and shrug them off as pure luck – as simply being in the right place at the right time – because – come on now – there’s absolutely no way this train wreck is capable of achieving anything on her own other than maybe inhaling three cream eggs in thirty seconds.

Har de ha.

And I know I’m not alone in this.  We’re all guilty of slipping into that old routine in social situations, aren’t we?  Whether we’re with our mates or with a whole crowd of new faces – it’s an easy way to seem more human – more relatable – to come across as humble instead of arrogant and therefore more likeable.  In theory!  But are we harming ourselves in the process?

If I’m constantly poking fun at myself and telling other people that I can’t cook to save my life, that I only wear flats because I look like drunk giraffe in heels, or that the reason I got that big promotion was completely down to luck rather than my own hard work, I’m going to start believing it myself.  And for what?  To spare someone else’s ego?  To be liked?  At that point we’re not self-deprecating anymore, we really are just self-defecating – shitting all over ourselves and our achievements!  And that ain’t cool, my friend!

I came across some sage words of advice on how to own your achievements and talents a while ago and it really stuck with me.  It’s basically all down to learning how to self-deprecate in a self-aggrandizing way.  I mean, you’re still poking fun of yourself – but you’re doing it in a much kinder, more positive way.  For example, instead of rolling your eyes and telling yourself and others “I can’t cook to save my life”, laugh at that burned slice of toast and declare proudly, “I clearly need my own cookery show – watch out Nigella Lawson!”  Next time your eyeliner’s wonky or you’ve gone in too hard with the blush, don’t pull the ol’ clown face gag out the bag – just have a chuckle and say, “Nailed it.”  Or the next time you send out an email full of mistakes (and to the wrong person – yikes!), instead of coming down hard on your writing skills just laugh and say, “Hey, I was clearly robbed of that Pulitzer.”  It’s a small switcheroo that’ll help change your mindset and have you owning both your flaws and achievements in a more positive way.

Let’s have a good ol’ laugh at ourselves without being the fool.

Anyone played any good April Fools pranks today?  The closest I got was Sunny politely informing me at 6.30am this morning that our toilet was backed up and spilling over – hilarious!  NOT.  Have a great week!  🙂

4 Times my Confidence took a Hit and How I Punched Back

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Let’s be clear here; I don’t think there’s a day that goes by where my ego doesn’t take at least a little bit of a dent.  You know, those little everyday knocks to your confidence.  Bad hair days, bad skin days. Those moments when you can’t seem to get your words out straight without spitting them all over someone (“Hey, I asked for the news not the weather!”). Days when you walk down the street and end up tripping over your own shoes (come on, we’ve all done that little over the shoulder look to blame an invisible crack in the pavement – “I was framed! I’m not just a complete and utter prat!”).  Those times when you just get it wrong; whether it’s an outfit, an answer to an important question or a telephone number (oh the horror).  I mean, that’s life right?  We all need taking down a peg or two from time to time; it’s those little knocks that remind us that we’re not actually walking Gods but snorting, spitting, “whoops I slipped up!” humans.  Who knew!

But in terms of overall self esteem those are just little bumps and bruises, aren’t they? No biggie. A bit of a knock or a graze that can be sorted with a bit of Sudocrem from your emotional first aid kit by way of having a good old chuckle over the fact that we’re all capable of being a bit of an idiot from time to time.

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But then there are those times when someone or something throws your ego a suckerpunch. One you didn’t see coming. The kind that knocks you flat on your back and leaves a little bit more than just a couple of bruises.  Something breaks and you need a bit of time to recover.  Maybe you even step of the ring for a while, and when you do come back you can’t escape the fact that you’re different – altered in some way.  More skittish, more likely to duck out before you get hit or maybe you’ve learned how to punch back.  Okay, I’m going to ease up on the boxing metaphor now – I’m getting carried away!  What I guess I’m trying to say is that no matter how much it hurts at the time, it’s only through moments that shake our confidence right to the core that we find out what we’re really made of – and who we really are and want to be.  Here are four of mine. 🙂

That time a famous Children’s Author told me to “Go Away”

Yep, you read that right.  Back when I worked in a High School supporting English lessons it wasn’t that unusual for authors to come visit and read to the kids, and some pretty big names passed through.  During one of those visits the teacher I was working with asked me to do a little bit of essay marking for her during the reading; it was coming up to reports time and she was absolutely swamped.  So, “sure” I said and went to sit at the back of the crowd where I got out my green pen (apparently red’s seen as too negative these days) and started marking.  The author got maybe a paragraph into his reading when he suddenly stopped and shouted, “Uh, the woman sitting at the back with the glasses and snot-coloured top.  If you’re going to insist on scribbling through my reading, I’m going to have to ask you go away and scribble somewhere else.”

Oh man.  I’m furious just thinking about it.  If the same thing happened to me today, I’d have absolutely no problem punching back at someone like that.  In fact, I’d enjoy it.  But back then, I just couldn’t.  I felt small every single day because I hated my job, and the way he’d treated me made me feel even smaller.  Practically microscopic.  He’d humiliated me in front of the people I worked with and worse, my students – who never let me live it down.  Had it been rude of me to sit there marking while he read?  Maybe.  But was I – little old me with the messy, mousy hair, glasses and snot-coloured top – SO distracting, SO offensive that he couldn’t even concentrate on the simple task of reading a book out loud?  Would he have spoken to me like that if I was a man?  I doubt it.  The truth is that Mr Successful Children’s Author had felt the need to pump up his already bloated ego by deflating mine.  I’m sure he forgot about me the minute I walked away, but I didn’t.

That time I flunked my A-Levels

Okay, maybe flunked isn’t the right word because the truth is, I didn’t really flunk my A Levels.  I did absolutely fine, the problem was that fine wasn’t quite good enough to get me into my top choice of university… or my back up.  The day before I picked up my results the plan had been to go to Cardiff University to study History.  Well, that plan went tits up – spectacularly.  I was absolutely devastated.  I felt like I’d let everyone down, including myself.  The truth was – and I think I knew it deep down at the time – that I just hadn’t worked hard enough.  I’d gotten sloppy.  I’d overestimated myself, and it was tough coming to terms with the fact that I wasn’t quite as good as I thought I was.  My confidence took a savage hit.  But hey, it all worked out in the end.  I went through clearing and got a place at Swansea University instead.  In the end it was good for me to get out of my home town and out of my comfort zone, and I had such a blast that I stayed on for another year with the guy I was really into at the time (…and still am, reader, I married him 😉 ) to study the other big love of my life; Creative Writing.

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That time my hair started falling out

I used to have really long hair.  I mean it was always quite fine, but I had a lot of it and it used to grow really fast.  I used to steer clear of the hair dressers and didn’t really need to bother caring for it.  I brushed it, I washed it and that was about it.  Then during my twenties, everything changed.  It became very dry, very brittle and even started falling out in massive chunks.  My confidence took a nosedive.  I stopped wearing my hair down and felt really bad about myself and how I looked.  In the end, I had to get it all chopped off just to take back some kind of control over it.  Nowadays I never take my hair forgranted!  I get it trimmed regularly and take care of what I’ve got.  It’s not perfect by any means, but these days I put in the work to keep it on my head!  (If you’re interested in reading more about how I got my hair back, I wrote a whole post about it here).

That time I was called a liar during an interview

Oh the shame.  This happened during one of my first interviews after graduating .  I was  so excited to have finished university and felt fairly optimistic about getting out there and finding a job I loved, although the truth was that I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do.  I was entertaining the idea of moving to London and was looking at jobs in marketing and publishing.  I managed to bag an interview for a job in sales with a big marketing firm in the middle of London and went in feeling super confident.  But it all went south during the interview.  I don’t know whether I was nervous or got a bit tongue tied, but the man who was interviewing me smirked the entire way through.  At the end he raised his eyebrows, scoffed and then said, “Sorry love, I don’t believe a single word of what you just said.”  I can’t remember what I did or said next – I must of repressed it – because I was absolutely mortified! I couldn’t get out of that room quick enough!  It was a good few months before I felt ready to go on another interview, and I didn’t apply for another job in sales after that.  Good thing too, I’d have been bloody awful at it!

How do you cope when your confidence takes a hit? 🙂

 

What I did: The Bank Holiday Edition

It’s the afternoon of #FakeMonday as I’m writing this, it’s grey outside and honestly?  I still can’t quite believe just how beautiful the Bank Holiday weekend was.  I can’t remember a Bank Holiday where it didn’t rain on at least one of the days, especially here in Wales, let alone a a whole three days without a single cloud in the sky.  I got my pasty, penne pasta legs out, ate barbecued(/burnt) hot dogs, dipped my feet in the freezing Bristol Channel, resembled a lobster after sitting in the sun for too long and it was bloody brilliant.  Well… except for the sunburn bit – slip, slop, slap everyone, always!

Anyway, I’m sad it’s over, but happy that I did pretty much manage to cram an entire summer into one weekend. 🙂




On Saturday we had a Barbecue in our back garden where we sat out in the sunshine, scoffed hot dogs and got through a handful of these very grown up ice lollies from Aldi which come in loads of different flavours from Gin and Tonic to Peach Bellini – definitely worth stocking up on ready for the next heatwave 😉


I also made these spicy potato chunks which are really easy and go really well with barbecue food.  All you need to do is cut the potatoes into chunks, boil them until tender, drain them and rough them up a bit in a colander, and then spread them out in a baking dish.  Add a knob of butter, some chopped chives and chilli jam (you can find my recipe here) and then bake for about 30 minutes at 180°.  Yum!



On Sunday we took Bungle to Porthkerry Park on the outskirts of Barry which is one of my favourite summery spots.  The main lawn was full of people having picnics and barbecues, and yet there’s so much space there that it never really feels busy.


We took Bungle for a bath in the sea and then went for an ice cream.  When it was time to leave, we packed Bungle into the boot of the car and took off his lead and just as we were shutting the boot he decided that he wasn’t ready to leave, jumped out and went running off on his own.  He went blasting off down the lawn and trampled three picnics while we tried to chase him down and wrangle him.  Oh the shame.



We finished off the weekend with a walk around Bute Park on Monday afternoon, and listened to some pretty hardcore music students practicing with the windows open at the Welsh College of Music and Drama.




Can’t wait for an encore at the end of the month!  Have a lovely weekend guys! ♡

How I Got my Hair Back

Just before I turned thirty, I cut my hair short.  I didn’t tell anyone I was going to do it, I just dropped into a London salon I’d searched up on Google that day at work, went armed with a couple of pictures I’d saved from Pinterest on the train ride, and I had the whole lot lopped off.  SNIP SNIP.  For someone who felt like her long hair had defined her throughout her teens and early twenties, this took guts.  And while the decision was impulsive and was put down by those around me to Saturn’s Return, the truth was that I did it – and decided that I needed to do it – because I felt like I’d completely lost control of my hair.  It was in bad shape and was making me miserable every time I looked in the mirror.

The long, mermaid hair I’d always thought of as “me” had split and thinned out to the extent that I’d actually stopped wearing it down, and just putting it into a lanky, limp ponytail made me upset.  It just looked awful.  Something had changed around the time that I moved to London.  London water is HARD, and the chalky residue it left behind every time I washed my hair was drying it out. It was so damaged that it was falling out in terrifying chunks in the shower or when I brushed it.  And even though Sunny and everyone around me kept telling me that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was, I refused to hear them.  But then I also refused to do the one thing I could to get it back under control. Instead of getting it cut, I desperately clung on to the meager strands I had even though they were beyond help.

Finally deciding to let those dead ends rest in peace was the first step I took to getting my hair back, and three years of hard work later, it’s looking so much thicker and healthier.  I mean, it’s not perfect by any means, but I’m happy with it.  I think I’ve finally found a routine that works. 🙂

Of all my weird patterned shirts (and there are a lot.  A LOT.), I think this mermaid one is my favourite.  Unfortunately, it’s a few years old now but I did find a link to one selling on eBay if anyone’s interested. 🙂

Regular Trims

When I was seventeen I had hair down to my waist and my whole hair care regime involved my Mum dragging me to her hairdresser once a year where I mournfully parted with an inch of a dead ends.  Then, during my twenties it became horribly clear that the old ways just weren’t cutting it anymore (…see what I did there 😉 ).  My fine, dry hair was far more prone to breakage than it used to be (thanks London water!) and so far more susceptible to splits.  That meant that the longer I left it between trims, the thinner my hair got as the split ends made their way up the hair shaft.  Nowadays I’m still a bit lacsy-daisy about getting my ass down to the hairdressers regularly, but as soon as I see the ends drying out and splitting, I go and part with as much hair as I need to to keep the hair I do have looking healthy.

Less Washing & Heat Styling

I used to wash my hair every day – and sure it kept my hair clean and restyled, but by doing so I stripped it of all its natural oils.  Plus heat styling every day on top of that made it dry, which in turn left it brittle.  These days I wash my hair no more than three times a week (I like the Garnier Ultimate Blends Sensitive Scalp Shampoo and Conditioner) and heat style it as little as possible.  (It also helps that the water here in Cardiff is nice and soft).

I’m a huge fan of Toni&Guy’s styling products; they smell amazing, they don’t weigh my fine hair down and they’re usually on a two for one offer either at the supermarket or Boots! 😉 I can’t rave about Vitapointe enough; it’s basically a leave in conditioner that you put on dry hair and I like to put it on my ends after styling or whenever they’re looking a little frazzled.  You don’t need a lot of it, it’s not greasy and it’s cheap!  Aaaaand, I like to put a coconut oil mask on my ends once a week – usually when I’m in the bath – just to keep those split ends at bay.

Keep it Simple when it comes to Products

When my hair was at its worst I started buying expensive shampoos, conditioners and miracle oils to sort it out.  But that was a waste of time and money.  My hair was already broken, and layering heavy moisture-rich products on top just weighed it down, stressed out my scalp and no matter how expensive they were they were never going to be able to bring my dead ends back to life.  These days I’ve stripped my products back and only use ones that work with my hair type – and, they’re all cheap as chips! 😉  Oh, and I stick with them – no more chopping and changing.

Ditch the Hair Ties

It got to a point where I was so depressed about my hair that I stopped wearing it down and instead scraped it back into a bun every day.  But using hair ties was just making things worse and left me with flyaways and split ends halfway up the hair shaft.  I know there are supposedly hair ties out there that claim not to cause breakages, but for me, going cold turkey on all hair ties was the only thing that worked.  Clips and pins all the way!

No Dye

When I was at Uni I went through a whole pink hair phase – which was fun at the time, but did horrible things to my hair and scalp!  I had highlights and balayage throughout my twenties and although I loved how my hair looked with a bit of blonde through the ends, it just made it drier.  I made the decision to go Au Natural a few years ago and it’s definitely helped my hair spring back to its former glory.  I mean, I’m tempted all the time to foil up again like I used to… but I’ve worked so hard to get my hair back that I just can’t bring myself to do it.

Be Happy With What you Have!

Last time I went to the hairdressers there was teen in the chair next to me getting highlights put in.  She had the most gorgeous mass of curls I’ve ever seen and hair envy hit me HARD.  But, sometimes you’ve just got to roll with what you’ve got and be grateful for it.  Did cutting my hair short suddenly give me thick, curly hair?  Nnnnope.  But, it improved the condition of it and put me on the path to healthier locks. Sadly, thick, curly hair just isn’t in my genes.  I have fine hair.  I have dry hair.  I have annoying baby hairs around my face that like to stick up.  And, I’m probably never going to have the mermaid hair I was blessed with in my teens again.  But that’s okay.  The problem with wanting what you don’t have is that you forget to appreciate what you do have.

What are your top hair care tips or holy grail products?  Let everyone know in the comments! 💇

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Why we need to stop turning 30 into an Expiration Date

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Today’s my birthday.  I’m 32 years old, which is crazy to me because the truth is that most days – in my head – I still feel like I’m 17.  And I suppose I still am in some ways; I still listen to the same kind of music, I still love doughnuts just as much (and more to the point still eat them for breakfast sometimes like I did when I was 17), still have a crush on Robert Downey Jr, still have the occasional volcanic eruption on my chin, and I still (and always will) think that mayonnaise is rank – get it the hell away from me.

How do I feel about hitting 32?  I feel good.  Better than good.  Which is strange because for a long time I was absolutely terrified of hitting my thirties.

I feel like during our twenties we’re made to feel like our thirtieth birthday is an expiration date of some kind.  You know, that by thirty we’re supposed to have travelled the world, ticked a few things off of our bucket list, met “the one”, know our personal style, have our own place, feel ready to create little humans (if we haven’t already), have reached a certain point in our chosen careers and just generally have life figured out.  We spend our twenties making Before 30 Lists of things we want to do or accomplish – and that’s not even taking into account society’s ideas about what we should have achieved before reaching the big 3-0.  And because of that we turn our thirtieth birthday into an expiration date.  The real life version of what midnight was to Cinderella… minus the pumpkin and glass slipper.

As I take another step into my thirties I can safely say that I’m happier and more comfortable in myself now than I ever was in my twenties.  And that’s not because I ticked everything off my 30 Before 30 List, or because I have life figured out – I really, really don’t.  Who does?  But I definitely understand myself a little better; who I am, who I’m not, and who I want to be.

We need to stop turning 30 into something to be feared and instead treat it as something exciting.  There’s something empowering about turning thirty.  It’s a whole new decade.  A whole new you… if that’s what you want.  You might not have x, or done y, or been to z, but hopefully you’ll know yourself a little better, and what and who matters to you the most.  And at the end of the day, those things are more important than whether you’ve backpacked the world or run a marathon or partied until the sun comes up.  You can still do all those things in your thirties, by the way.  No one’s stopping you!  😉

Happy Birthday to meeee! 🎈