Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Bedtime Story (30/11/2016)

I don't know what made me decide to write about a month-long trip to Australia... Maybe I need a holiday?!

If you'd like to listen to this story as a podcast, just click here.

"Not Until December!"

Koby couldn't wait for December to arrive.
It felt like he'd been waiting all his little life!
You see, on December 1st, Koby was going away.
He was off to Australia, on a month-long holiday!

But Koby was so excited, he almost couldn't wait.
Ever since he found out, he'd been asking Mum the date.
And how his heart sank, lower than he thought it could get,
When each day Mum replied: "It's not December yet!"

Koby spent his time, learning all about Australia,
So that when he finally got there, he'd be a genius, not a failure.
And soon he felt he knew enough, it surely must be time?
But Dad just rolled his eyes and said: "It's only November 9th!"

Each morning, Koby packed his clothes into a little case.
And with a beaming smile, down the stairs, he would race.
And every day, with all the patience that they could engender,
His mum and dad would tut and tell him: "Not until December!"

It was taking way too long; Koby was sick of waiting.
He wanted to meet a kangaroo!  This delay was SO frustrating!
Each day he dressed in shorts and t-shirt, only to be told:
"Get changed; it's hotter in Australia, but here, it's WAY too cold!"

And they were right, the weather was cold, the rain kept falling down.
How Koby longed to explore Australia, not his boring old home town.
He had his sunglasses, sun cream and hat, all ready to be worn,
There in the land Down Under, where it was bright and warm.

Koby had learned all about the places that he'd see on holiday,
Like Ayers Rock, Sydney Opera House and maybe even Byron Bay.
And every day he'd regale his parents with all the facts he could remember,
But his face would fall when they'd have to tell him: "Not until December!"

He'd never been on a plane before, so each day Koby would watch them,
As they flew straight through the clouds, as though they were bubbles and the plane could pop them.
He couldn't wait to see what it was like to be so high,
In a chair, eating dinner, watching TV in the sky.

But the wait seemed to be taking forever; being patient was quite tough.
And one morning, Koby woke up thinking: "I have had enough.
I don't believe we're going on holiday, it's never going to come."
And Koby spent the whole day, being really rather glum.

Neither of his parents could bring Koby from his gloom.
And when it came to bedtime, he trudged sadly to his room.
But then came the moment that Koby would always remember,
As his Dad kissed him goodnight and whispered: "Tomorrow is December."

So, Koby lay in bed, much too excited to sleep!
He was off on holiday the very next day, after waiting for weeks and weeks!
He'd see kangaroos and koalas, Tasmanian Devils and more.
And as he fell asleep, Koby finally knew: Some things are worth waiting for.


Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Everyone Needs A Corner...

It's fairly rare that I write anything on this blog, only to delete it within hours.  This is my safe space on the Internet (not that anywhere is exactly "safe," seeing as most places are accessible to others and I've had some serious hate on here, especially from Fifty Shades fans...).

But last night, I wrote a post and deleted it a couple of hours later.  Not because what I wrote was offensive, or in any way malicious.  Just because it featured a reference to something it turned out - thankfully! - that I was very wrong about.  And I didn't want to leave a post in which I'd talked about something I'd gotten my wires crossed over.  Everything else in the post was accurate and represented how I felt - and still feel - but rather than edit out the information that was not correct, I just decided to get rid of the whole thing.

Today, I'm mad with myself for doing it.

I'm not mad with myself for not wanting inaccurate information about myself or the relationships in my life floating around the Internet.  I'm mad because I was told that I shouldn't be talking about personal stuff online at all.

And that, my friends, is a load of tosh.

Now, let me preface what I'm about to say by insisting that this is not a rant aimed at the person who told me not to talk about personal things online.  This is a rant aimed at anyone who has ever told anyone else not to talk about anything online.  Okay?  Right.

Once upon a time, there was no Internet.  I know, it's hard to imagine, but I promise you, that time existed.  I was there.

Back then, when life got you down and you needed to vent about it to someone, you had to pick up the phone and call someone, or talk to someone you lived with.  If that didn't help, you could write it in your diary.  People didn't broadcast their whole lives for the world to see, because that simply wasn't an option.

Nowadays, it is an option, and there are plenty of people who still choose not to lay themselves completely bare.  That's a decision I can absolutely understand and support.  Ironically, even I don't like to talk about everything, online.  There is a line and I refuse to cross it.  I won't discuss work issues online, because... Well, duh.  I don't fancy losing my job, just because the temptation to rant about it became too great (besides which, I really like my job, so I'm unlikely to rant about it, anyway).  I don't go into masses of detail about my family, or the lives of my friends, because as far as I'm concerned, writing about myself is fine, because I've given myself permission to do so.  I'm not prepared to write about people close to me, because they haven't necessarily given me the go ahead to do that, so it would be grossly unfair to invade their privacy, like that.

What I do do, both here and on my social media, is talk about me.  My life, the problems I encounter, my emotional state, my ups, my downs and my opinions on everything from TV shows to politics.  

Years ago, I gave an interview to a journalist who was writing an article about my children's books.  She described me, in the finished piece, as "disarmingly honest."  And that's me.  That's exactly what I am.  I wear my heart on my sleeve and I say how I feel (tactfully and with consideration for people's sensitivities, obviously).  I expect the same level of honesty from the people in my life and I don't have any embarrassment about how open I am, with regards to what I share about myself and my feelings.  Because it's thanks to stumbling across other people who are unafraid to talk about themselves very honestly, that I've become more confident in doing so, myself.  Reading other people being very open and honest about themselves made me feel that it was okay for me to do the same in my own blog.  It helped me and I'd like to think on some level, that my own openness could help someone else, out there.

And I'm okay with it.

Now, in absolutely no way am I suggesting that everyone should bare their soul to all and sundry, online.  What's right for me would be completely and utterly wrong for someone else, and that's fine.  We should all run our lives in a way that works for us.  

What bothers me, is ever being told that I'm in some way wrong for talking so honestly about myself and my life.  Because the key word there, is "MY."  It's my blog, my social media and therefore my decision as to what I put out there.  The same goes for literally every single person out there.  It's your social media, you run it the way you see fit.  

And yes, that means that people are going to do things that I dislike.  It means that people can post blogs that are offensive and horrible, voicing opinions that sicken me right to my stomach.  But they have every right to say whatever they want (unless they're genuinely spouting hate and breaking laws to do so).  It means that people can spam their Facebook with those bloody awful "don't scroll past without typing 'amen'" posts and I can be irritated by it and I can vocalise on my own Facebook (or Twitter, Tumblr or on my blog) how much those things annoy me, but I do not have any right to say "don't do that."  Because it's their page.  Not mine.

Of course, sometimes, people think they're doing you a kindness by suggesting that you alter your behaviour, online (as my friend did last night, I'm sure).  They believe that by saying "don't write such personal stuff," they're protecting your feelings in advance of hate-comments, or they're warning you that your boss could read what you're posting and it'll somehow make you look less professional.

Here's the thing, guys:  I don't write anything on here that I wouldn't calmly and rationally discuss with anyone, including all of my work colleagues.  And more importantly, what sort of world are we living in, when what we write on social media can impact our careers?  I'm not talking about hate-speech, which gets you into deserved trouble at work.  I'm not talking about slagging off your boss on Twitter and then acting shocked when you get fired.  I'm talking about writing about depression, or sharing stories about your life and some of the bad things you've had to overcome.  I'm talking about sharing tips on how to deal with life when it gets tough (which is what last night's mysteriously disappearing blog was about, in case you're wondering).  I try not to swear too much on this page (partly because of the weekly bedtime story feature and partly because of my job) and when I share an opinion, I always try to make it very obvious that it's my opinion and may not be shared by all my readers.  As I said earlier, I have never and would never talk about my day-job, here.  In short, my professional self; the person who goes to work in the mornings and does her job to the best of her ability, has no bearing on what I write in this blog and vice versa.  To even remotely suggest that I am somehow losing my professionalism by writing a very open, honest blog about my life, or by talking about my personal life on social media, is actually massively offensive.

How far do we take it?  "Oh my God, you wrote about going to McDonalds on your Twitter, but you're a NURSE, so I can't take your health care professionalism seriously anymore - THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU POST!"?

The fact is, sure, we mustn't be naive.  We do have to think about what we share online, for our own personal safety and well being.  But if we make the choice to share something, that is our decision to make.  It's not - or at least it shouldn't be - up to anyone else to tell us how we should conduct ourselves online, especially since the only person who will ever know all the facts and all the reasons you've decided to write something, is YOU.  And once you've decided that you're okay with sharing something, it's up to you to deal with any consequences, should they arise.

In this modern world, we're able to post something online and share our thoughts, dreams and frustrations with hundreds, thousands, even millions of people, at the click of a button.  And sure, there are downsides to that.  But there are many upsides, too.  Communities are formed on social media, when people are able to talk honestly about issues such as depression or self-harm.  Sharing your love for a particular fandom is a great way to make friends, online.  Being open about your feelings in the written word can be a good way for someone who struggles to open up face-to-face, to let people know that they're having a hard time and need support.  Reading someone else's honest account of a situation can make other people experiencing the same thing feel less alone.

What I'm trying to say is, everyone needs a corner of the Internet that feels like theirs.  Somewhere to share silly things, tell stories about their life and yes, have the odd breakdown or rant.  That corner is theirs to do as they please with.  

And it's not up to anyone else to try to take that away.

My social media will remain open, honest and politically opinionated.  So will this blog.  Always.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Bedtime Story (23/11/2016)

Most people know that I am the BUDGET QUEEN.  If I'm buying something, I often like to find the best bargain I can get.  So, this story is all about making your pocket money stretch as far as you can - and about realising that money isn't anywhere near as important as spending quality time with people you love.  

As always, this story is also available as a podcast.

Evie And The £1 Shopping Spree!

"That is the sparkliest pencil case I have ever seen!"  Evie shrieked, gazing at Charlotte's latest purchase.  "It looks like it's silver, but when the light catches it, I can see pink, green, blue, purple, gold..."  Her words trailed off as she admired it.

"I bought it with my pocket money," Charlotte cooed.  "And these scented glitter pens, too."

Evie sighed.  "It would take me ages to save enough," she replied.  "I only get a pound a week."

"A pound?!"  Charlotte gasped.  "You can barely buy anything with a pound!"  She wrinkled her nose and shook her head.  "I get five pounds a week and sometimes, I save it for a whole month and then go on a shopping spree!"

Evie's cheeks flushed red.  She and her mum didn't have a lot of money.  Her mum gave her a pound most weeks, but sometimes she couldn't even manage that, what with the baby needing nappies and Evie's dad not being around, anymore.  She swallowed, hard.  "I buy myself a chocolate bar and I share it with Mum, whilst we're watching telly in the evening,"  she explained.  "It's our weekly treat.  We call it Chocolate Friday."

Charlotte laughed out loud.  "Chocolate Friday?!  What good is that?  A bar of chocolate only lasts a few minutes, especially if you only get to eat half.  You can't get anything special with a pound."

Evie thought about that for the rest of the day.  When the bell rang for the end of school, she trudged out of the classroom, to see her mum waiting, with baby Jake in his buggy.  Mum immediately frowned.  "What's wrong, sweetheart?  You look ever so sad.  Have you had a bad day?"

Evie felt bad about telling her mum what was wrong.  She didn't want her to be upset.  "It's nothing," she sighed.

Her mum bent down and pressed a shiny £1 coin into Evie's hand.  "It's Chocolate Friday," she reminded Evie.  "Are you ready to go and buy a tasty treat?"

Evie clutched the pound in her hand.  "No," she said, a little more crossly than she meant to.  "You can't get anything for a pound.  At least, nothing special."

Evie's mum looked sad.  "Who told you that?"

Evie gazed over her shoulder, to make sure none of her friends could hear.  "Charlotte says she gets five pounds a week and sometimes, she saves it for a whole month and goes on a shopping spree.  She laughed at me for only having a pound a week."

Evie's mum thought for a moment.  After a while she let out a long sigh.  "Right," she said.  "We won't get any chocolate, tonight.  And then tomorrow, we'll go on a shopping spree of our own.  I'll show you that you can get something special for a pound."

Evie wasn't sure, but she nodded her head, anyway.  It was strange not having their weekly treat in front of the television that night, but Evie went to bed feeling excited about the next day, all the same.

The following morning, after everyone had eaten breakfast, Evie's mum told her to put on her coat.  Evie rushed to get it; she was excited for the shopping spree to begin, although she still wasn't sure how she was going to end up with something exciting, like a sparkly pencil case, with just a pound to spend.

Evie and her mum and brother headed for the newsagents, first.  "Okay Evie," Mum said.  "If you've got your pound, then we'll practise your counting, together.  See if you can count twenty penny sweets to take with us on our day out."

Evie did what she was told, filling a little paper bag with chewy cherries, fizzy cola bottles and jelly beans, until she had twenty.

After they left the shop, Evie asked: "What are we going to do, now?"

"Anything you like," Mum replied.  "Why don't we go to the park for a bit?"

"Yes, please!"  

At the park, Evie played peek-a-boo with Jake, then she ate some of her sweets and went off to play on the swings and the slide for a while.  Soon, she spotted some older kids, flying a really cool-looking remote control plane.  Mum noticed and said: "Did you want to fly a plane, Evie?"

"Can I?!"  Evie asked.

"I think we could make some paper aeroplanes, ourselves," Mum replied.  "But we need to buy some paper.  Are you ready to carry on shopping?"

They headed to the town's big supermarket.  In the stationery aisle, Mum picked up a notepad.  "Here you go," she said.  "It's from the basics range.  Only 49p!"

Evie frowned.  "Isn't that a bit small for making aeroplanes?"

"We could pretend they're really tiny ones, made especially for fairies and elves," Mum grinned in reply.

Evie paid for the notepad and together, they all headed back to the park.  Mum taught Evie how to fold the little sheets of paper into aeroplanes and they had lots of fun, throwing them and watching them glide on the breeze, rising high into the sky, then falling softly to the ground.  They flew their planes for ages, laughing and chasing one another, until the air started to turn chilly and Evie started to shiver.  

"Do you know how much money you have left?"  Mum asked.

Evie took some coins out of her pocket and counted them, carefully.  "31p."

"Let's get a new toy on the way home, then," Mum said.

"A toy?!"  Evie exclaimed.  "You can't buy a toy for 31p!"

Mum smiled.  "I know a place where you might be able to," she said.  "Follow me."

Evie's mum took her to a shop that Evie hadn't been in, before.  "They sell lots of things in this shop," Mum explained.  "And they're all second-hand.  That means they used to belong to someone else.  But now, they can be re-sold, and the best thing is, the money you pay for the things you buy here, goes to help people in need."

Evie's eyes widened as she glanced around the shop.  There were clothes hanging on a rack, lots of books and DVDs on shelves and, over in the corner, some toys!

Evie went over and looked at the toys.  Many of them cost more than she had left in her pocket, but then, Evie spotted a jigsaw puzzle, with a picture of two very cute puppies in a plant pot on the box.  "Aw, look how cute these puppies are!"  Evie grinned.  "I like puzzles.  And hey, the ticket on the box says 30p!"

Evie paid for the puzzle and walked home with her mum and Jake.  When they got inside, everyone was feeling a bit cold from the Wintery weather, so Mum made mugs of hot chocolate for herself and Evie, and a nice bottle of warm milk for Jake.  Then, she and Evie spent some time putting Evie's puzzle together, chatting about their day as the picture began to take form.  "Thank you," Evie said, as she slotted the pieces into place.  "I really like this new puzzle.  And today has been really special."

Evie's Mum gave her a big hug.  "I know it wasn't much of a spending spree, really, but..."

"It's not important," Evie said, smiling. "Charlotte was wrong.  A pound can buy you something really special."  She pulled out the backpack she'd been wearing on their trip into town.  Inside, there were several dented paper aeroplanes, and the rest of the penny sweets she'd bought earlier.  But it wasn't the things she'd bought with her pound that were really special.  It was the fun they'd had in the park, throwing the planes around and laughing together, and the time spent all sat around the table at home, doing Evie's new jigsaw.  Evie had realised that she might not have a new, sparkly pencil case, but she had something worth a whole lot more.

"So... Do you want to save next week's pocket money for another spending spree?"  Mum asked.

Evie shook her head and smiled.  "No thanks," she said.  "I think we'll snuggle up on the sofa and have Chocolate Friday, like we usually do."

Evie got up to go and play, before turning, suddenly.  "Hey, Mum?"  She dug into her pocket.  "I still have a penny left."  She held it up.  "Why don't we save it in my piggy bank, along with the change from the chocolate next week?  And in a couple of weeks, then we can have another £1 spending spree?"

Evie's mum grinned.  "Great idea," she said.

And that's exactly what Evie did.


Saturday, 19 November 2016

We Need To Talk About Donald...

He's a baby.  You know, just in case this image was too subtle.

I feel like 2016 is trolling us.  First, it took Bowie, plus a whole heap of other awesome celebrities (seriously, next year's "in memorium" section at the BAFTAs is going to be about an hour long...).  Then, a Brexit campaign fought using a combination of racist rhetoric, scare-mongering and outright lies (hey, Mr Farage?  How about that £350million for the NHS, now that we're leaving the EU?!) actually won - albeit with a minority so small that, had the result gone the other way, you can bet your backside that Farage and co would be screaming from the rooftops about how unfair it was.  And now, we have an orange, weird haired, misogynistic bigot on his way to the White House.  If it wasn't for the fact that he's dead, I'd be convinced that Jeremy Beadle was about to pop out and tell us that this is all just some hilarious prank that the whole world somehow fell for.

Beadle's About.  He has to be about, right?!

The thing is, if I really force myself to imagine being in the shoes of a Leave voter, I can attempt to work out one or two supposedly sensible reasons for wanting Brexit, beyond mere racism and intolerance.  I don't agree with any of the reasons given for voting Leave, but I can just about understand where people are coming from, even if I will never share their views.  Trying to understand why other people think and feel the way they do is a pretty natural thing for most of us to want to do, because it can help foster better relations on both sides.  

But even if I try really, really hard to abandon all common sense for a while and get into the mindset of someone so fed up with the status quo that they feel that something radical must be done, even if that something means that a total wreck of a human being with all the moral integrity of a genital wart is put in a position of enormous power, I can't understand anyone voting Donald Trump into office.

Regardless of how frustrated you are with the way things are going in your county, it is never okay to decide that only the worst kind of human can fix it.  There is literally no excuse in this day and age (not that there ever truly was) for blatant racism, outright misogyny, homophobia or mocking of the disabled.  And yet these were all facets of Donald Trump's campaign, either from him directly, or as a result of his choice of running-mate, Mike Pence (the kind of charming guy who believes in electro-shock therapy to "cure" gay people).

He looks mad.  He probably has blood coming out of his... wherever.  Or something.

Now, we find ourselves watching in dismay, as Trump picks yet more racists for his cabinet team. In the past couple of days, Neo-Nazi webzine Daily Stormer, referred to Trump's cabinet as being "like Christmas" for those with racist beliefs.  Trump himself was gleefully cheered on by members of the KKK.  This is not a case of the liberals whinging that a crazy guy wants to build a bloody great wall to keep all the Mexican "rapists" out.  This is now actually happening: a man with openly bigoted views is assembling a cabinet of racists.  

His pick for Attorney General is Jeff Sessions, a man who was rejected as a Federal Judge in the 1980s, because of several racist comments he'd made.

His pick for National Security Adviser is Michael Flynn, a man who was unable to say, when pressed, that he outright disagreed with Trump's openness to reinstating extreme interrogation practises, such as waterboarding, nor would he outright deny that he agreed with Trump's threat to kill the entire families of suspected terrorists.

Mike Pompeo is Trump's choice for the chief of the CIA.  This is a man who voted against renewing the Violence Against Women Act, is a hardline anti-abortion campaigner and a lifelong member of the NRA.  He too, has also come under fire for racist comments.  Anyone else seeing a theme developing...?!

And of course, Steve Bannon, who has been handed the role of Trump's Chief Strategist, is the man Neo-Nazis and White Nationalists are cheering about, seemingly loudest of all.

Here's the thing:  It doesn't take much to realise that when the KKK and other such openly racist groups are applauding your new President and his cabinet, you don't cheer with them, unless you are also openly racist.  You've got to have been bashed over the head with the stupid stick if you can't see that connection.

The trouble is, even if not everyone who voted for Trump is a racist, there is a noisy group who very much are.  And those people believed that their grotesque, backwards views had been given legitimacy by his victory (much like the Leave voters here in the UK who did vote out of racist views).  Those same people are watching Trump fill his cabinet with fellow racists and are now, as the Neo-Nazi webzine mentioned earlier put it, feeling like it's Christmas.  If you are a Trump supporter and you're reading this and you are not racist in any way, I've just got to ask: can you not see this connection??!!  Can you really not see how Trump and his fellow cabinet members are giving racists a perceived golden ticket to air their views wherever they like, and to believe that they are now the majority?!  Is this the change you wanted?!

The trouble is, take away all the racism, homophobia and misogyny and what are you left with?  A spoilt, attention-seeking little brat whose moral compass has gone seriously awry.

Seriously, when we're talking about Donald Trump, when you cut away the "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN" rhetoric, you'll find a guy who lies and lies and lies.  He's a man-child, so emotionally stunted that he cannot accept a single word of criticism, however legitimate.  He will find any excuse to paint himself and those around him as victims, in order to whip up more hate.  This is a man whose victory speech was clearly penned by someone else, in order to have him on record saying that he will heal the divisions across the nation.  Yet, just days later, Trump was back on Twitter, insulting publications that failed to back him, by wrongly insinuating that they are failing.

When Mike Pence attended a performance of Hamilton on Broadway, the cast made an eloquent, heartfelt plea at the end of the performance, for Pence and the rest of the government to act on behalf of all citizens, regardless of ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender.  There was no mud-slinging, no swearing or harsh words.  It was an honest admission that many are afraid of what lies ahead.  It was a request for every American citizen to be considered equal.  There is video footage and a transcript readily available.  And yet Trump's response was to take to Twitter and lie, saying that Pence was "harrassed" and that an apology was due.  This, from the man who insinuated that he would support Hillary Clinton being shot, if she won the election.  This, from the man who claimed that he could sexually assault women and get away with it.  This, from the man who, at one electoral rally, openly mocked a disabled member of his audience.

The ACTUAL President of the ACTUAL United States.  I can't.

People - many of whom are Trump supporters - are insisting that we need to give this guy a chance.  We have to see what he actually does in office, before we judge him.  


This is a man whose entire campaign was built on hating his opponent, making Islamophobic and racist remarks, belittling women and mocking the disabled.  We judge people on what they put out into the world and what Trump put out in his entire Presidential campaign was enough to make many people genuinely fearful of what his time in office would mean for them and for the wider world.  He is now the President-Elect and he is still lying and spitting out his dummy on his Twitter account.  He is hiring a cabinet made up of men who've made headlines for their racist views.  He is doing nothing to calm the fears of those who are most at risk from him being given power.  He's said very little against the racial attacks carried out in his name.  He has not made any effort to unify his divided nation.

I may be just one, very small blogger in the UK.  But I am very serious when I say, we need to talk about Donald.  Because there is a real risk that something dreadful could happen - not only to America, but the world - if we stay silent.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Bedtime Story (16/11/2016)

Being an exceptionally clumsy human being, I thought I'd write a story for all my fellow butter-fingered folk!  To listen to this story as a podcast, just click here!

Clumsy Cameron

Cameron was very clumsy,
His sister Carly was not.
And though he pretended not to care,
It bothered Cameron a lot.

At breakfast, Cameron spilt his milk,
Whilst Carly's stayed in her cup.
When the pair got up to go and play,
Cameron would slip and trip up.

He was forever breaking things,
Though he really didn't mean it.
And once, he fell into a puddle,
Because he simply hadn't seen it.

Carly's school uniform looked pristine,
She was usually clean and tidy.
But Cameron came home from school a mess,
From Monday through to Friday.

Cameron always had cuts and scrapes,
From his accident-prone running about.
He seemed to trip over his own feet,
Every time he went out!

Of course, Carly had the odd bump, too,
But never as often as Cameron.
Yes, when it came to being clumsy,
He really was the champion.

But one day, Cameron had had enough.
He was worried and it made him feel sad.
If he was forever spilling or breaking things,
Did that mean he was bad?

At breakfast that morning, Cameron sighed.
He poured no milk into his cup at all.
And after eating some toast very carefully,
He tiptoed out to the hall.

There, Cameron sat, cross-legged on the carpet,
Staring straight up at the ceiling.
He wanted to go and play with his sister,
But he couldn't shake this sad feeling.

Cameron sat on the floor for hours that day,
Refusing to move from the spot.
When his parents asked if he was okay,
Cameron nodded...But he was not.

He didn't play with his toys at all,
He was too scared to move.
"If I don't do anything, I can't be clumsy."
Cameron had a point to prove.

He barely touched his lunch that day,
And his dinner was just the same.
He was too scared that he might spill something.
So, he silently sat there in shame.

Eventually, the day came to an end,
And the stars came out in the sky.
But as he climbed into his bed,
Cameron started to cry.

"What's wrong?" His mum asked, as she said goodnight.
"If something's the matter, just say!"
Cameron stuck out his lip. "I'm clumsy," he said.
"And I just wanted to stay clean for one day."

"I wanted not to fall over, 
Or break things or spill stuff," he said.
"I wanted to be good, just like Carly.
Why can't she be clumsy, instead?!"

Mum laughed, as she cuddled Cameron close.
"We all have faults," she insisted.
"We couldn't love you any more,
Even if your clumsiness never existed!"

She looked at Cameron and gave him a smile.
"You're perfect, just as you are.
No matter how much you break, or spill, or fall down,
You'll always be our little star."

"Really?!"  Cameron grinned.  "You don't mind?!" 
His Mum gave him a big hug.
"Nobody is perfect, but you are to us,"
Mum answered, tucking him in nice and snug.

Cameron beamed, finally happy again,
As his Mum kissed him right on the head.
He leaned over to give her a big kiss back...

...And promptly fell out of bed.


Tuesday, 15 November 2016

"I Want To Believe."

I've been through quite a lot.  We're talking about the sort of stuff that could easily make me lose my faith in love, the goodness of humanity and even myself.  The fact that I never have lost those things - at least not permanently - is a source of pride.

But lately, I've realised that maybe my barriers should be higher.  Maybe I should believe in people less.  That's not a nice thought, but perhaps it's a self-preservation tactic that I ought to employ.

You see, I believe the things I'm told.  Not blindly, of course; if you tell me that in times of stress, a badger is able to ward off danger by dazzling its enemy with a rousing rendition of The Macarena, I'd be inclined to question you (although I would love to see that happen...).  But when someone tells me nice things about myself, or when someone makes me promises, I have this irritating habit of taking it at face value.

What I'm saying is, I suffer from premature excitement.

Pictured: me.

I really, genuinely wish this wasn't the case.  Because getting excited about something that doesn't exist sucks.  

Have you ever had someone tell you "I really want to do *this* with you," only to discover shortly afterwards that they've already done it and you didn't get an invite?  I have.

Have you ever had someone you're attracted to, flirt with you and talk about the things you could do together, only for them to drop off the face of the Earth, then pop up days later with a shiny new partner you had no idea about?  I have.  Like, really recently.

And in cases like those, I always end up being hurt.  Because, no matter how many times I say "oh, I'm not going to get excited about this," inside, in my incredibly foolish heart, I'm already there.

Don't get me wrong, I know why people like me believe in promises of potential romance, or everlasting friendship or whatever.  It's because we want to.  


When someone tells you that you're sexually appealing to them, or that they'll always be there for you, you want to accept that as truth.  Because the thought that actually, that person (or those people) don't really mean what they say is hurtful.  

If someone opened with "hi, I find you marginally attractive and I'm willing to flirt with you until someone I actually fancy comes along," most people would shrug their shoulders and say "no, thanks."  If someone said: "Here's an invitation to something I'm actually going to go and do with other people without you knowing about it," you'd frown and ask why the heck they were bothering to pretend to invite you in the first place.

And bizarrely, I've reached the conclusion that I almost wish people would say things like that.  Because then you'd know where you stand.  And I'd be standing well away from those people, with no risk of being hurt.

Honesty is a trait I admire in other people.  It's something I think is vital to any form of relationship.  Being open about how you feel, what you want and whether you actually mean the things you say is so important.  Sure, sometimes when people are honest, it means telling us things we don't want to hear.  And that can hurt.  But it hurts less than finding out that the very words that someone made you all happy and excited with, were actually just words.  Without real meaning or intention behind them.

You know when you book a holiday, there's the option to buy cancellation insurance?  Well, I feel like there should be cancellation insurance on life.  So, if things go tits up, you're protected from feeling like you've lost everything.

Sadly, that kind of insurance doesn't exist.  And yes, pain is a human emotion we all have to go through sometimes, and yes, we can learn from painful experiences.  The thing is, I don't want to learn that the best way to go through life is by not believing anyone who says anything too nice to me.  I want to believe that if a guy tells me I'm gorgeous and he'd love to be with me, he actually means it.  I want to believe that when people say they're always going to be around, they're actually going to, you know, be around.  

The trouble is, right now, I don't.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Bedtime Story (9/11/2016)

I was coming up with some rather bizarre questions for myself earlier and I thought: I think there's a story in this!  So, here it is...

And here is the link to listen to the story as a podcast!

"Can You Teach A Dog Piano?"

Sam was always asking questions,
Each one crazier than the last.
And just when his parents thought he was done,
He'd think of something else to ask.

"Can you teach a dog piano?
Can a baby unicorn swim?
"Why doesn't glue stick to the inside of the bottle?"
He'd ask his parents, with a grin.

And he rarely stopped long enough
For Mum or Dad to reply.
He'd just ask another question,
Whilst his parents heaved a sigh.

"Why do they call it 'rush hour'
When the cars are hardly moving?
Is a boy ladybird called a 'manbird?'
I find it very confusing..."

So, Sam's Dad bought him a book to read:
"A Hundred Amazing Facts:
All Your Questions Answered!"
And he sat down to relax.

He was certain that Sam's curiosity
Would be satisfied by the gift.
But all it did was inspire more questions!
Dad sighed and gave a sniff.

"Why does nothing rhyme with 'orange?'
Would don't brown cows give you chocolate milk?"
Sam continued on and on
With questions of that ilk.

So, Mum took him to a museum,
To learn lots of new information.
But all the trip did was inspire more questions.
There was no limit to Sam's creation.

"If my jumpers sometimes shrink in the wash,
Why don't sheep shrink in the rain?"
He asked his parents, whilst they watched TV.
They were too tired to complain.

Then Dad suddenly had an idea.
"Sam, I have a question for you,"
he told his son the very next morning.
"Can you solve it?  I haven't a clue!"

Sam frowned.  "I'll try my best.
What's the question?"  He asked.
He was used to being the quizmaster,
Not the one who completed the tasks!

Dad furrowed his brow for a second,
And coughed to clear his throat.
"If you put it in the river,
Would a kitchen sink float?"

Before Sam could answer, Mum chimed in:
"If a bee stings another bee, does it come out in hives?"
Sam stared from one parent to another,
His face filled with a look of surprise.

"I don't know," Sam said, truthfully.
"But wouldn't you love to find out?
Aren't there so many things in the world
That fill your mind with doubt?

Isn't the Earth that we live on
A strange and brilliant place?
Don't you just want to know everything
About the world and the universe and space?!"

"But nobody can know everything,"
Dad told his son.  "Some things are a mystery."
Sam shrugged.  "Everything was a mystery once,"
he said.  "If you think about our history."

And suddenly, Sam's parents finally understood
Their son's questioning all of the time.
He simply wanted to know more
About this world of yours and mine.

So, Sam's parents bought him lots more books
And gave him extra lessons after school.
Because Sam was a boy who loved to learn.
He thought learning was pretty cool.

And although some of his questions 
Were still rather whacky and wild,
Sam's Mum and Dad were rather proud
Of their extremely quizzical child.

And as they tucked him into bed
And gave him one last kiss goodnight,
Sam yawned and smiled and sleepily asked:
"Are stars heavy or are they light?"


Saturday, 5 November 2016

5 Things I've Learnt About Myself In The Last 5 Years...

And here endeth the blog.

I was talking to someone earlier about the importance of taking positives out of negative situations and trying to learn and grow as a person.  Bit deep and meaningful for a text chat, some might think, but hey.  This is me we're talking about...

But seriously, I do genuinely believe that we never really stop learning about life and indeed about ourselves, as we make our way through the years, and it's important to take stock, now and again.  Because the person we are today, could be very different to the person we were five years ago, and different again to the person we'll be in five years' time.  Everything we go through in life - good and bad - changes and shapes us, after all.  

So, with that in mind, I've been thinking about what have I learnt about myself in the last five years.  And this is what I've come up with...

1. I am one tough little cookie.

I need to binge-watch some American Horror Story, later...

Okay, so I've been through a lot in my whole life, not just in the last five years, but it's only recently that I've realised how strong I am.  You know that awful cliche about women being like teabags: you never know how strong they are until you put them into hot water?  Well, I'd make a damn good cuppa.  Unless you like it weak.  Okay, I'm going off track, here...

...What I'm trying to say is that for years, I've thought that because I'm incredibly sensitive, it's meant that I'm not very strong.  And then life proved me wrong.  I've walked away from an abusive relationship and put my life back together.  I've gone back into the specific strand of my day job that I left at least in part because I didn't think I was able to keep up with all the changes that were coming in at the time, and I've proved that I'm bloody good at it.  I've stood up to people who resorted to petty bullying as they took sides in a fight that was not theirs to have.  All of that has happened in the last five years and whilst I may have been dented by some of it, I've never been broken by it.  And when you realise your own strength, you also realise that you have the power to avoid the things that could hurt you, by ensuring you're not prepared to take any crap in the future.

I don't know what life has in store for the rest of my time on this planet.  But I do believe I'll get through it.  Just... You know... Remind me of this on my bad days, eh?!

2. There is nothing wrong with being sensitive.

Me too, Chandler.  Me too.

I've talked about this a lot in the past, but it's true, damnit!  There is literally nothing wrong with being sensitive.  It just means that you're empathic; you feel things deeply.  That's nothing to be ashamed of.  Life is something we experience, not just something we passively pass through.  Feeling sad when bad things happen is natural.  Caring about the people who have an impact on our lives is understandable and kind of important, if you don't want to look like a total psychopath.  Which... Well, I'm guessing you don't?!

Being someone who cares and feels things means you're experiencing life on a deeper level.  You're sucking the marrow out of life, to borrow a quote from Henry David Thoreau (which I only know because of Dead Poets Society, but shut up and let me look intelligent, please).

It's not weak to feel emotions on a deep level.  Nor is it weak to cry.  In fact, to be able to feel things like deep sadness or unbridled joy and to be able to acknowledge it without shame is something to be applauded.  

My name is Emma and I'm ridiculously sensitive.  And proud of it.

So there.

3. Following the herd is boring as heck.

If you're anything like me, you've spent at least some of your past, trying to fit in with others.  Nobody wants to feel like a social outcast, especially not when you're young and trying to find out who you are.  Sticking out like a sore thumb can be really scary and it's natural to want to hide in a majority, rather than risk being the odd one out.


...If you're not being true to yourself, then what's the point?  There comes a time when you start to realise that actually, there's no shame in being the one person who says "I can't stand *insert name of popular thing loved by everyone else you know here*."  Or, in being the person who likes something that everyone else thinks is tragically "un-cool."  In fact, let's be honest, being the person who likes something that everyone else thinks is tragically un-cool is basically my purpose in life...

I've reached an age where I no longer give even the slightest toss whether my fashion choices, musical tastes or personal values fit in with the majority.  If I'm old-fashioned in some of my beliefs, so be it.  If I'm accused of being cheesy in my taste, who cares?  And you will prise my Tesco children's range sparkly tights out of my cold, dead hands.  Or, rather... Off my legs.  But please don't.

4. I'm a soppy old romantic.  And I'm okay with that.

When you've been through the worst kind of relationship that life can throw at you, it's perfectly understandable if you get a little... Cynical.  And yep, I went through that phase.  You know the one.  Where all happy couples give you a mild urge to roll your eyes and say "I give it six months," before skulking off to your room to listen to some Alanis Morissette...  Don't judge me.

But the thing with being an incurable romantic is that... Well, the clue's in the name.  There's no cure.

After a year or so of being a ridiculously (although possibly understandably) cynical type, I started to defrost.  I came to realise that I still believed in love.  And I'm talking big love.  The kind that makes people get off planes in sitcoms.

There's... There's something in my eye.

I am a soppy little sod.  I want to be loved by someone who thinks I'm beautiful, even when I'm stumbling around in my pyjamas first thing in the morning, with crazy hair and no make up.  I want to have someone to write long, soppy messages in birthday and Christmas cards for.  I want to hold someone's hand as we walk through the streets, knowing they're holding my heart just as tightly.

You may all go and vomit now, if you need to.

Seriously, though.  I do want those things and I believe in them.  And even if I never find them, it won't stop me believing, nor will it stop me being glad for everyone who has found them.  Just to have that belief and that desire to have those things for myself after having gone through the total opposite at the hands of someone I loved is a pretty big deal, too.  Well done, me. ;-)

5. I'm okay by myself, too.

Do I want to be with someone?  Sure, of course.  Do I need to be?  Don't be daft.  I'm in a fabulous relationship with my awesome self. ;-)

In the last five years, I've realised that I can be perfectly happy on my own.  I can go out for the day by myself and not be crippled by loneliness (or the fear that everyone is watching me and wondering why I apparently have no friends...).  I can take care of myself and I enjoy my own company.  Now, that doesn't mean that I'm about to become a weird recluse, who talks to her own reflection and never speaks to another living human.  It just means that I like me and I'm confident enough in who I am, not to need validation that I'm an okay person.  

I mean... Most of the time. Don't remind me of this when I'm watching a sad film and wishing there was a guy hugging me, whose chest I could dramatically weep onto. 

There are ways in which I miss having a boyfriend, but I've reached the point where being single is no longer the dreadful, miserable experience it has been in the past.  I have no ties, I can wear a onesie to bed and not worry that it's the least sexy item of clothing in the world, plus I can go out and not feel remotely guilty if a guy comes along to chat me up (and shockingly, that does happen, sometimes...).  

Besides which, it's always best to get into a relationship because you want to, rather than because you feel a desperate need not to be single.  You have to be okay with who you are, before you can expect anyone else to be.  Which means I'm actually in the ideal place, should Mr Right come along.


So, I guess I've learnt a fair bit about myself over the last five years.  And I've not even touched on a lot of it, such as the fact that I've learnt that I cannot quit my addiction to Irregular Choice shoes, or that I can't put on false eyelashes.  Seriously, how do those even work??!!

There are still lots of things I would like to learn about myself, such as what sort of mother I'd be, whether I'd be able to handle fame if either my writing or my YouTube channel took off, or how crazy I'd go if I had a house of my own to decorate.  But hopefully, there's still plenty of time to find all of those things out.

The one thing I know for sure is that at the end of every year, when I look back on all the things I've done, I can't help but reflect on what I've learnt along the way.  And in doing so, I get to know myself a little better. 

I can't wait to find out more.