Home » the fairytales…

interlude 7 – my body, my life, my family, my choice

7 years ago I had an abortion.

At the time, it wasn’t really a decision, just something I knew I needed to do.

 

However, I know that in making that choice, the outcome of too much alcohol and misplaced judgement, that I have been able to have in a career, become financially independent, grow as an individual, travel the world, meet incredible people, learn what my passions are and how I can positively impact my little circle of life.

 

It’s not something I discussed with many people at the time. I was embarrassed, ashamed of making a mistake that could have had a monumental impact on my life. Having sex is not something I discussed with my family. Neither was the decision to have an abortion. I know I have a supportive and non-judgement family, I know now and I knew then that they would love and support me whatever I chose to do. But honestly, I just didn’t know how to instigate that conversation. And then time passed and it didn’t seem to make sense to bring up something that had already happened. So it kind of just became a secret. Writing this is the bridge to letting the people who are closest to me into one of my biggest secrets. It doesn’t need to be a conversation, it’s just something that no longer needs to be a secret. Because I don’t feel ashamed or guilty about it. And if this post can help anyone else release the stigma associated with abortion or any other secret they’ve been too scared to tell the people closest to them, then I know this is worth sharing. However you tell them, I promise the people who love you wholeheartedly and without condition, will continue to do so. Telling them might actually surprise you and bring you closer because vulnerability has a funny way of showing people how fucking brave you really are.

 

I had a medical abortion which was simply taking medication and having what felt like a painful, heavy period albeit technically a miscarriage.

Having an abortion, to me, is the saving grace of late prevention techniques. It should be seen as no different as to taking the morning after pill, being on the contraceptive pill, using a condom. They are all designed to prevent pregnancies, this method just means that you still have the freedom for your life to carry on as you know it, if any of those methods were not in play or effective at the time you had sex.

For me, I found the process of having an abortion was more about the mental side effects rather than those on my body. Having a boob job or even lip fillers would have been a far more invasive procedure on my body.

And I think the reason the mental aspect of it was a big deal was because it is still seen as a taboo subject. There is guilt and shame associated with having an abortion. I was left wondering if that may have been my only opportunity to become a mum, if I was a bad person for putting my life ahead of a smattering of cells, had I made the right choice, is this something I could forgive myself for, knowing that I would have to live with this decision for the rest of my life.

And that guilt and shame is magnified exponentially when it is illegal. To have to travel out of your country, away from home, when all you want is to be able to go home and crawl under your own duvet in your own bed is not ok. There was a girl who had travelled over from Ireland when I was sat waiting for my appointment. And that is still the sad reality for the women of Northern Ireland. And watching it go backwards in the States is pure mind boggling.

 

Despite all the thoughts I’ve had about my own choice, I never once had to concern myself with the thought about whether it would be allowed. Whether someone else, someone who has never met me, who knows nothing about my situation or circumstance, or who will never know the emotional attachment to bearing a child because he’s a man, would have autonomy over my body and the path my life would take. My heart breaks at the thought of women having their choices taken away from them. It’s bad enough if it’s just bad timing, a mistake, the wrong person. But to imagine that you could be made to carry and give birth to a baby, when you are only 11 years old, or have been raped, or have an ectopic pregnancy that could in fact kill you, well quite honestly, I can’t and don’t want to imagine it.

 

If you are pro-life, I have no issue with you choosing not to use birth control, or choosing not to end an unwanted pregnancy. But I do have an issue with you taking that choice away from someone else.

 

To take away the rights of these women to make choices about their bodies, their state of mind and their lives, is truly horrific.

 

#youknowme I’m not a bad person, I made the right choice for me in the mess of a bad situation. I’m so excited about becoming a mum one day but I know that it’s because I’m ready for it, because I can love with my whole heart without resentment and without what-ifs. My body, my life, my family, my choice.

 

Interlude 6 – Let Me Out of Your Box

I don’t know if it’s just me or if other people feel it too. I feel suffocated by labels. This need to be able to articulate what I am, what I want to be and how I want to live my life. As though it needs to be something understandable and manageable, so other people can process what I am and how I fit into their life, or not. 

Like being one way or another is the key to my happiness and yours. 

It’s bloody exhausting. And I’m done with it. 

I have been a drama assistant, I have been a barmaid, I have been a planner on construction projects, I have been a yoga teacher. I would like to be an interior designer, a craft maker, a home maker, a studio owner, a philanthropist. 

I have been a full-time employee, I have been a contractor, self-employed, a volunteer, I have been on the doll. 

I have been a student and a teacher. 

I have been settled, unsettled, travelling, stuck. 

I have been a daughter, a sister, an auntie, a best friend, a bad friend, a girlfriend. I hope to be a mother and a nana (side note lol: according to Urban Dictionary Nana is an amazing funny pretty girl. You’ll love her once you meet her. She always has something to say. She is loud and rude and isn’t afraid to say what’s on her mind. This is not the nana I was meaning, but I’ll be that too.). 

I have been loved, and I have been loving. I have been unloving, and unloved. 

I have tried hard and I have been lazy. I believe in science and I believe in soul. I am privileged and I have experienced discrimination and sometimes I just think the world’s out to get me.

I have eaten meat and I have eaten vegetarian and I have eaten vegan. I have done a juice cleanse and I have drank until I couldn’t stand. I want to be healthy and I also want to eat all of the chocolate. And white chocolate, but not bitter dark chocolate. 

I have a thousand pound bag and a t-shirt from a charity shop. I recycle and sometimes I can’t be bothered. I want to explore and I want to sit in front of the TV. I am sexy and I am a slob. 

I don’t understand marriage but I’d love to be loved, have a sparkly ring and a big party where I can wear a beautiful dress. 

I love to be at the beach and swim in the sea but I hate the feeling of salt and sand on my skin. I love the feeling of grass under my feet but hate the irritation of the grass on my skin. I love to walk barefoot and I love high heels. 

I can be kind and I can be mean. I can be compassionate and I can be intolerant. I like to move and I like to be still. I like to be the centre of attention and I like to be all alone. I love yoga and sometimes I just don’t want to practice it.

I have an opinion and sometimes my opinion can change in an instant and sometimes I’ll say things I don’t even mean, just because. And I reserve the right to change my mind whenever I well please.

I am brave and I am scared shitless. I am certain and I am clueless. 

I can be more than one thing at once. And sometimes I can be nothing at all. 

If it’s a tick box, I tick none and I tick all. If it’s a jack in the box it could burst open at any moment or stay shut forever.

So please don’t ask me to define myself because I don’t have a succinct answer. 

I can’t be all things to all people. So I guess I’ll just have to be ok with being all me. 

And I’ve written the words ‘I, me, my’ 96 times in this article, and I should be more aware that this is all just ego and I should delete the post because it’s self indulgent. Or I could just press publish, because today I just don’t give a flying.

interlude 5 – mountain of dreams

I sometimes get so caught up in my head.

I’ve always been someone who just gets shit done. Who finds a way to make something work or power through to fix something, even if that does occasionally come across like a bull in a china shop, occasionally. I have grit and determination once I put my mind towards achieving something.

face plant the base of a mountain

And while that’s great in theory, it often leaves me feeling so incredibly overwhelmed. I set these huge expectations of myself that it can feel like I face plant into the base of the mountain rather than going for a Sunday stroll up a hill.

I don’t like sharing. Scared that this idea that seems so wonderful and powerful in my mind will seem pathetic and stupid to someone else. Fearful that someone may challenge why I want to do it in the first place and I’ll have no better response than, “it seemed like a good idea”. Petrified that someone will call bullshit on me for not having the experience, skills or knowledge necessary for achieving said goal. And that mountain peak will come crashing down on me in one fell avalanche. Scared that I’ll get found out for being a dreamer. Heaven forbid.

one fell avalanche

I don’t ask for help. Sure, I’m a bit of a control freak, (what A-type isn’t?!) and if it doesn’t look IRL how it does in my mind, the only person I want to be able to blame is myself. But ultimately, it was my idea so why would I expect anyone else to put their time and resources into something to help make my dreams come true?!

I don’t want to feel exposed. By keeping everything inside and to myself, I can’t really ever fail because no-one else knew it was ever supposed to happen. I’m not letting anyone down by not making it. I’m not disappointing those people who believed in me. I’ll just quietly slip away and on to the next thing, or maybe back to the thing I was doing before this bright idea.

But slowly, I’m understanding that the more I share, the more I am lifted up. I have people ready to give me a boost should I need it, I have friendly faces at the top of the mountain pulling me up to my goals and dreams. This might be my mountain, but I don’t have to be on it alone all of the time.

friendly faces at the top

The power of sharing brings us out of our heads and into the real world. The expression ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ doesn’t exist for no reason, you know.

So the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed and alone, reach out. I’m here to cheer you on, to give you a leg up. If you have the slightest inkling that it’s worth doing, I have no doubt that you will achieve it. If you can imagine it, you can live it. It’ll just take time, courage and as The Beatle’s would say, a little help from our friends.

Because life is for living in the real world.

interlude 4 – a trip around the Earth and around the Sun

3 weeks shy of a year ago, I began on an adventure. Today, I sit here on the last leg of my journey home.

My adventure began in Bali. The place I consider my spiritual home. It took me back to the place where the initiation of a new life had begun the year before. Bali has so many magical secrets to share if you stop and look. It is not a pristine place of beauty. It’s a rough, unrefined diamond. It’s a third world country which has one of the lowest rates of homelessness. It seems the more you have, the more you become scared to share it. Scared that someone will take it all away from you. Scared that it will leave you with nothing. And the less you have, the more you share. You have nothing to lose.

When you’re creating design, it’s an offering, a gift.

It is a place where hand crafted pieces of work; doors, tables, chairs, sculptures, contain intricate details. Whilst I wandered down the streets, taking time to appreciate the beauty of each uniquely created piece, I listened to a podcast where Oprah Winfrey paraphrased Rainn Wilson saying ‘there’s really no difference between art and prayer. That when you’re creating design, it’s an offering, a gift. And in order to do it well, you have to be in alignment with that which is the creator.’ And in that moment it made complete sense. Expression of beauty. Dedication. The time to be fully immersed. Creating a gift to be shared with the world to bring joy to others.

It is a place where locals take the time to lay out offerings to theirs gods several times a day. Who go to the temples with one another. Who live in communities. People who are happy to share their way of life with you if you are patient enough to sit and learn, communicating on a level which transcends language barriers. Where you can sit and watch the surf, or jump in and learn to surf. A place which is littered with litter, because they have no infrastructure to deal with the first world’s problems. But take the time to explore, and you will find the gems.

It is a place where you will find a whole family on a scooter. Where people toot their horn to let people know they are there, not out of aggression. Where if you have no idea what is going on, it looks completely hectic. But if you go with it, the level of awareness of one another is higher than anywhere I’ve been before.

It’s a place where I made a beautiful friendships. People who are scattered across the planet but who happened to be in the same place at the same time, just for a moment. Who I hope to share more magical moments with again in the future.

 

Wanderlust… a festival named so aptly for the journey I was on.

The adventure led me on to exploring the East Coast of Australia.

Travelling and living in my makeshift camper, Barbie. I started at Wanderlust on the Sunshine Coast, a festival named so aptly for the journey I was on. I spent a week playing, yoga-ing and dancing with more incredible souls. A couple of who, have no idea the extent of their impact on me. I was fully myself, safe to be whatever my heart desired. Hoola hooping covered in glitter and sparkles. Dancing and spinning into the night. Flying high in overhead lifts. Sliding down waterslides after dark. To those there in those moments, thank you.

From there I ventured town to town, beach to beach, waterfall to waterfall. I made memories with my beautiful baby sister and her fiancé. We laughed, barbequed and cursed the small towns of the which shut up shop at 8pm, leaving us hungry from poor planning on several occasions! We snorkelled in the reef, excited by turtles and dolphins. We played in the ocean like we did when we were kids. We giggled like we’d never stopped after a trip to Nimbin.

Living my best life instead.

And I found the place which I’d call home. A little town called Burleigh on the Gold Coast. In a beautiful sliding doors moment, I was where I was always meant to be, only in a completely different capacity. 11 months before my arrival in Burleigh Heads, I had been offered a job as a construction planner on the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Luckily for me, several things occurred which meant I didn’t take the role. Yet here I was anyway. Only teaching yoga, living my best life instead.

From the moment I arrived in Burleigh, I knew I was home. And I was surrounded by people who were old friends from days and Games gone by (I worked on the London 2012 Olympic Games and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games). And then I ventured out and made a separate group of friends. People who’d rather spend time on their hands, or on someone else’s feet than their own two feet! A group of people who kept me pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone, learning things which on the approach to 30, I definitely thought I was too old to learn. But I really learnt that however old your body is, if your mind is young enough to play, to learn, to expand, then physical limitations are just a figment of your imagination.

 

What made me think that I was good enough to do such an incredible thing?

Then I hopped on a plane over to Koh Samui, Thailand for an intensive 150 hour training course, furthering and deepening my yoga practice and teachings.

It was a training that broke me in order to make me. My demons were exposed. And I could either let them win or face them in order to move forwards. There’s a fable where a grandfather is telling his grandchildren the story of 2 wolves, The good wolf and the evil wolf, who fight one another. When one of the grandchildren asks who wins the fight, and the grandfather replies, the one which you feed. I was staring at my insecurities head on. Asking myself why on earth I thought I could move to the other side of the world and be a yoga teacher. What made me think that I was good enough to do such an incredible thing? Who was I to teach anybody anything? This was a life that someone really cool, who has all this stuff to share does, not boring, little ol’ me. The rooted belief, that I was not good enough. That no-one cares what I have to say. That I’m not likable, or cool, or fun. So I cried. I cried and cried until there were no tears left.

But I had an angel by my side. She looked at me and said, you have just as much right to do this as anyone else. So I faced my wolves. The one telling me I wasn’t good enough and I should go back to that life I had before because it was safe, I knew what to expect there, go back to being the girl everyone knows and depends on. And then the one telling me that despite not knowing what would happen, I was good enough. That I could make anything happen if I wanted it enough. And I chose to feed the good wolf, not the one filled with fear.

 

I was grateful to connect with so many people through the power of yoga.

And onwards I went. Back to the Gold Coast to make my fortune as a yoga teacher. My fortune came. Not financially. I had set out and manifested that I wanted to teach enough that I broke even. And I just did that, covering my rent and bills. Somehow, every week, even on the weeks which I thought were going to be lean, somehow, something materialised for me, breaking me even. But my fortune really came in experience. Teaching consistently. Meeting wonderful people who taught me as much as I taught them. Who shared their stories with me. Filling me with love, laughter and joy. Sharing their sadness, grief and hope. I taught pregnancy yoga, and had the privilege of sharing a session with one expectant mother who later went into labour that day. I was grateful to connect with so many people through the power of yoga. Whether they showed up on the mat to work up a sweat, to stretch out tired muscles or to find peace in a busy mind, they all brought a dynamic to my classes which I will always be grateful for.

 

Life isn’t without it’s bumps though.

I shared love with people who weren’t in a place to return it.

My best friend lost her mum whilst I was away. I knew that the only place I could be was with her. So I dropped everything, to be there. She had absolutely no expectation of me to do so. But there are people who I would do anything for, and she happens to be one of them.

I invested in friendships with people who are lone souls and don’t understand my fierce loyalty.

 

I returned home again for a wedding. Surrounded by friends who mean the world to me. Surrounded by their love, their friendship, their support.

Time to create space for my next adventure.

I could have stayed in Australia for longer than I ended up choosing to do so. But in a moment, sat in the park, in the sunshine with a dear friend, I knew that I had achieved all that I needed to from this adventure. I was full of a ‘should make the most of’ reasoning, and it dawned on me, that this is something I say so often. Should make the most of a nice day, should make the most of my visa, should make the most of this opportunity… The struggle being that those ‘shoulds’ are all wonderful yet sometimes those ‘shoulds’ feel more like obligations that things which serve us. So this time I looked at what was best for me. It was time to create space for my next adventure, whatever that may be. In order to continue to grow, I needed to let go and surrender.

 

Find the wonder.

So through it all, here is what stands out for me.

  • Every experience is enhanced by the people you share it with. If you’re on a tropical island or in front of the TV, if you are with people who set your soul on fire, it really makes no difference.
  • Just because you give someone your all, they don’t need to return it. And if they don’t, it’s not a reflection of you, it’s a reflection of them.
  • Don’t be shy to be who you are. Not everyone will love you, and that’s ok. Because those who do are your tribe.
  • Take time to slow down. There’s so much beauty you miss out on when you just rush by. There are no prizes for getting to the end faster.
  • If you think you can’t, you can. Because if you think it, it already exists in the realm of possibility. It is only fear holding you back from trying.
  • Life isn’t smooth sailing. Finding the inner peace whilst the storm is raging on is the real life lesson.
  • Have faith that it’ll work out, you don’t need to know all the ins and outs. Plans change all the time, the unknown is half the fun.
  • The world is beautiful, go see it. Adventure, always. Even in the mundane, find the wonder.

 

Preparations for landing are beginning. So here’s to my next adventure. And to yours.

 

Cheers, A xoxo

chapter 12 – get low, get low, get low lunge

This pose is the symbol of Anjaneya, the child of Anjana, a supernatural woman, and Kesari, king of the monkeys, gazing and reaching up towards the sun, mistaking it for a glowing piece of fruit that he wants to jump for.

Anjaneyasana (Ahn-jah-nay-ass-ana) – Low Lunge

We often move into our Low Lunge from either a forward fold with a step backwards, or from our downward facing dog stepping forwards.

Feet and Legs

Foundation of this pose:

Front foot firmly grounded, aligned as it would be in tadasana.

**Release the back knee and untuck the toes.

The back knee is down on the mat, and if possible, you want to try to roll a little bit further forward over the knee so that the weight of the body doesn’t go directly into that supporting knee. The top of the back foot is pressing down into the mat, toes pointing straight back.

The knee of the front foot stays in the same line as the foot, so the knee doesn’t knock in or out.

There is some discussion around how far forward the front knee should go. One school of thought is that the knee should stay directly above the ankle. I would recommend staying here until you are comfortable with the pose and are able to use your core to support your weight. This will minimise any undue pressure being placed on the knee. Once you are consistently comfortable and stable here, if the knee extends past the ankle, you can move forward. However, you will only ever move as far forward as the compression in your ankle joint allows for you to go.

The main target area being stretched in this pose is the quad and hip flexors of the back leg.

Pelvis and Torso

**Sink the hips nice and deep.

The more you allow the hips to sink into this pose, the more you will feel this stretch in your quadricep. The added benefit of sinking the hips deep is that it helps when you progress this pose by bending the back knee!

The low back then extends up and if it’s available to you, and expansion across the chest can release you into a backbend in the upper (thoracic) spine.

Arms and Shoulders

I have a few variations for the arms here and it all just depends on your level and what works for your body. Never, ever be shy to take a modification if it serves you better than what is being instructed. That said, don’t always go for an easier option if it’s just a case of being lazy and not wanting to exert yourself.

So, 1, the hands can rest on blocks. This will help stabilise you, whilst keeping the chest open.

2, hands resting on the bent knee.

3, the hands can reach straight up.

4 , the fingers can be interlaced with the index fingers pointing up or back (kali mudra).

Wherever you go, keep the shoulders down whilst the hands reach, in that beautiful yogi paradox you have come to love.

Head and Neck

If the hands are extended overhead, the gaze can go up towards the hands. If you are coming into the backbend the head can release backwards (gently, obviously, no throwing the head around which could cause pain to the neck), gaze still following the direction of the fingers.

If it feels cranky in the neck, know that you know your body better than anyone and keep the gaze straight ahead.

 

chapter 11 – full moon, half moon, total eclipse

Staying with our balancing theme, the next posture we are looking at is the Half Moon Pose.

Ardha Chandrasana (ard-ah chan-dras-ana) – Half Moon Pose

There are a few ways you might find yourself coming into a Half Moon. You could transition from your Warrior 3, lowering the same hand as the standing leg and opening up the hips, you might find yourself moving into it from a crescent lunge or even your triangle pose. Either way, this is what you’re looking for once you find yourself there.

Feet and Legs

Foundation of this pose:

One foot, pointing straight ahead, as it would be in Tadasana, and Warrior 3. Ensuring the corners of the feet and pressing down firmly and equally, this will help the body weight to come directly down through the centre of the foot rather than having the foot roll in or out.

The standing leg is strong and engaged. The back leg is lifted, is strong, straight and engaged. Engaging the muscles in the lifted leg will help it feel lighter and will make it easier keeping it lifted.

**Flex the back foot and push the heel towards the wall behind you.

Flexing the foot helps to keep the leg engaged and energetically draws you back to your centre.

Pelvis and Torso

Differing from Warrior 3, the pelvis in Half Moon is in an externally rotated position, facing the side wall. Almost as though your back leg just lifted up from your Trikonasana, Triangle Pose.

The torso extends from the pelvis, much like it would in Tadasana. Just keep it nice and straight. Standard pointers, drawing the bellybutton back towards the spine will mean your core starts to activate, which will help keep your balance.

Arm and Shoulders

I often cue to move into Half Moon with the top hand on the hip. This initially helps you to keep your centre of balance. Once you are stead here, extend the hand up towards the sky.

The bottom hand can either be resting on the earth or on a block, underneath the shoulder a few inches forward of the front foot. Your preferred hand height will depend on the flexibility in your hamstrings (stretch them out with this flow!), your proportions of arm and leg length, and your balance (the more balanced you are, the less weight you need in in your bottom hand, meaning it can free float away from the earth).

Head and Neck

Again, to move into the posture, start by looking towards your bottom hand. Then, once your found your balance, turn your gaze towards the sky (if this is comfortable in your neck). Turning the gaze upwards will help to keep the chest nice and open, and it will also challenge your balance, so keep those abs doing the work!

chapter 10 – three times a warrior

Warrior 1, Warrior 2, and now we move through to Warrior 3. A balancing pose, firing up your core, turning on those stabilising muscle and general badassness. Let’s get into it!

Virabhadrasana III (veer-ah-bah-dras-ana three) – Warrior 3

We often transition into our Warrior 3 from a high lunge. This gives us a good foot foundation and a nice point to transfer the weight out of the back leg in order to lift it into our balancing posture.

Feet and Legs

Foundation of this pose:

One foot, pointing straight ahead, as it would be in Tadasana, Warrior 1 and Warrior 2. Ensuring the corners of the feet and pressing down firmly and equally, this will help the body weight to come directly down through the centre of the foot rather than having the foot roll in or out.

The standing leg can have a slight ben in the knee.

The back leg is lifted, is strong, straight and engaged. Engaging the muscles in the lifted leg will help it feel lighter and will make it easier keeping it lifted.

**Flex the back foot and point the toes towards the earth.

Flexing the foot means it looks how it would be if you were standing on it) and pointing the toes down stops the legs and hip from rotating outwards.

**Imagine you are pressing the back foot into a wall behind you.

Keep the energetic line all the way through to the heel of that back foot.

Pelvis and Torso

The pelvis is in a neutral position, facing the front. From there all that happens is that it hinges forward as the back leg lifts. It doesn’t roll out, it stays neutral.

The torso extends from the pelvis, much like it would in Tadasana. Just keep it nice and straight. Standard pointers, drawing the bellybutton back towards the spine will mean your core starts to activate, which will help keep your balance.

It may feel like you need to lift the chest a little, but this is just to counter the natural instinct to let it drop.

Try to avoid rolling open the hip as above, look how wonky it makes you!

Arm and Shoulders

There are a few variations for the arm positioning in Warrior 3. The traditional posture has both arms extended straight out in front, palms facing towards each other.

My personal favourite is having the hands in prayer at the heart centre. Personally, it helps me to keep my chest from feeling droopy and it draws the attention to the centre of the body helping with balance.

Another option is to have the arms extended alongside the body, with the palms facing towards the body.

Your teacher will instruct which variation you should take.

Head and Neck

Take the gaze slightly towards the front edge of your mat. You mostly want to keep the neck in a straight line, not craning it up to look forwards. However, having the gaze slightly forward will probably help just a little with your balance.

 

Bida bing bida bong. Vira III. Over and out flying warrior xo

interlude 3 – but what about international men’s day?!

So. International Women’s Day. Do you know how many years I worked in an industry where, be it International Women’s Day or Women in Construction Day, or some other day which bolsters the great work women have done, it would be met with cries of ‘when is there an International Men’s Day? Why don’t we get celebrated for all OUR hard work?’.

I know, but they exist.

I know, but they exist. And for many year’s I would fight them and argue and try to explain that they were completely missing the point of the day.

I was thinking about what I could write about to celebrate this day when I re-read something I wrote almost a year ago but didn’t ever share. And then it struck me. This year, I won’t bang on about the great women who have pathed the way for me, I will shout-out the good, the bad and the ugly of the men who have built me up, torn me down, broken and fixed me, and helped me grow into the woman I am today.

 (This started as an ode to my ex, but I realised that it needed to be so much more than that. This is for my teachers, my lovers, my friends, frenemies and my nearest and dearest.)

 

Mr Kennedy, you were my first ever crush. I was about 8. Playing round your house was just the best. Your blonde hair. Your American parents. And the best friend a girl could ask for.

Girls can play football too.

Mr Gooding, thankyou for knowing that girls can play football too. Being able to let my inner tomboy run wild was the beginning of me learning who I was and being a girl in a boy’s world. Thankyou for driving us to matches in your little black car that chugged diesel fumes down the road and had cow skin covers on the seats.

My first real boyfriend. I learnt so much about life with you. You let me into your world which was so different to mine, but you never took me to the football. I loved and was loved. We did all the things that 15/16 year olds are supposed to do. But in the end, you broke my trust and I broke yours. I learnt how to deal with the guilt and the pain caused by hurting someone I loved. And I learnt how it feels to find out that secrets can become poison. But what I’ll always remember is how special it feels to fall asleep in the arms of someone you love. You’ll always be a part of me.

Mr Logan, you were my favouritist teacher ever. You truly cared about my successes, you never, ever doubted me and you always made time for me. It never would have even crossed my mind to take a degree in engineering if you hadn’t guided and supported me the way you did. You were firm but fair and I had complete respect for you. I can only hope that I can inspire a generation the way you inspired me.

To the boys I crushed on in sixth form- you taught me how to deal with rejection, not always gracefully, but it’s a learning curve right?! You taught me how alone you can feel when you’re a teenager looking for validation and how isolating it can be when you make mistakes.

 fix myself and rebuild a better, stronger, more determined version of me

Then Mr ‘with an I’. I don’t think there are enough words which can be written to sum up what we went through. I never felt good enough for you. Like I never quite measured up to that other girl who peaked your interest. When we fought, it was nuclear. When we loved, it was magic. I learnt how it felt to have every move manipulated, but I didn’t learn this until long after the end. You didn’t have faith in me. I invested my love in fixing your shattered heart. I defended your behaviour. But it broke me. It broke me into so many pieces that by the time we were finished, I didn’t even know who I was or what I was capable of doing anymore. But it made me fix myself and rebuild a better, stronger, more determined version of me. So thankyou for making me prove to myself that I was capable. And thankyou mostly for telling me I would never make it in the construction industry, because if nothing else, I’m stubborn as an ox when someone tells me I can’t.

To the boys who dragged me kicking and screaming through my degree. Thankyou. I owe you a lot for putting up with me and making sure I passed even when I HATED what I was learning.

To the one night stands (sorry mum) – I learnt how amazing and empowering sex can be. I also learnt how debilitating it is to replace affection with meaningless sex.

 I took it.

Mr May, in the short time we spent together with you as a mentor, you bucked me up, you saw what I had to offer and you made me believe it was mine for the taking. I took it. I greatly appreciated your help and advice.

Nigey-K, you were my best friend through some of the happiest times. Living in Leeds was a turning point in my life and your love and friendship will always factor so highly in that. Sunday Brunch has never been the same without you. I learnt how easy it is to want more from a relationship when you have such a great friendship. But I’ve also learnt that friendships like ours aren’t easy to come by and so I value it immensely. Thankyou for making me feel part of your family, I love you all.

Oh god, emosh.

 a hard, fast, ear piercing shattering

Mr A. I don’t know where to begin because I’m not sure I ever really got over it, but very recently I’ve been ok with letting it go. I learnt what that crazy, passionate, deep-seated love is. I would’ve done anything to make you happy. The only problem was when you decided that you didn’t want to be in any more. This wasn’t a breaking that crumbled me. This break was a hard, fast, ear piercing shattering. You had these dreams which I fully backed. I believed you could do anything you wanted. I hope I helped you believe it too. I will always be grateful to have experienced a love which consumes me. I’m sure some people never find a soul with who they can share that fire. But I’m also grateful to know that I’m strong enough to collect the shards and superglue them back together. I might not have collected all the pieces, and they certainly aren’t in the right order. But they make a new pattern now. I know that love is a concept you’ve become cynical about, and for good reason. But I also know that when you are ready, you are capable of both giving and receiving love in the most epic way. Trust me.

Mr K – you’re amazing. I’m sorry that I was the one who did the breaking in this relationship, but maybe above explains it a little. You are so fun to be around, remembering your antics puts a smile on my face. I’m sorry I had a stick up my arse thinking I wanted something proper when you were everything I needed you to be. I did learn what it’s like to not be the centre of attention because, man alive, you needed to be that. Like all the time! I thank you for my love of country music and in fact, just the general musical education you gave me. I thank you for your crazy energy which inspires me and your sensitivity which has taught me to be gentle with other people’s hearts.

T-JAC, you were broken when I met you. I felt like you’d come into my life so that I could mend you. And I think that’s what I did. I got to see a part of you that I don’t think you let many people in on. You taught me how it feels to love and not be loved in return. How the more of my heart I gave you, the stronger you got and the more you realised you were still in love with someone else. I hope my love made you realise how special you are and how you hold the keys to your future. There’s nothing standing in your way. You did, however, give me Shantaram. And a beautiful inscription. When seeing it doesn’t make my heart ache, I promise I will read it.

T-Rex. You taught me how it feels to be adored. You taught me that I have capacity to be shallow and petty and that it’s not pretty. You taught me that being in love isn’t always a bonfire on fireworks night. Sometimes it’s the gentle fire which you tenderly add more kindling to and it keeps you warm all through the winter. I tried to give back to you what you gave to me, but in the end I don’t know what broke us apart. I want to thank you for breaking up with me. The end of our relationship was the catalyst I needed to book my Yoga Teacher Training course. This training changed the course of my life. It awoke in me a passion for life which I didn’t know I had any more. Safe to say, I wasn’t expecting that.

 To the Peter Pans

To the Peter Pans who I have had the pleasure, and mild vexation, of working alongside. You kept me together when I wanted to crumble, you made me laugh when I was sad/ angry/ irritated and on the rare occasion you decided to not agree with what I had to say, you eventually came round to my way of thinking. When the love was lost and getting out of bed to turn up for a job which I dreaded was too tough, you brought sunshine to my cloudy days.

 home is not a place but a feeling

Mr C, you were never supposed to be serious. When I met you I told you that in less than 8 weeks I was going away for 8 weeks. You were good company. The night before I went away, there was a shift and I felt more for you than I had before. I guess nothing like loosing something to make you realise what you had in the first place. I learnt that if I want to be selfish with my life then I can’t expect someone else to not be selfish with theirs also. Talking to you about my spirituality, my passion for yoga and an alternative lifestyle left me feeling silly, embarrassed and often judged. And I’ve learnt that I need to feel empowered. To have someone who won’t judge or question or fight me. But root for me. Unwavering. Continually. I need a cheer squad.

Mr G. In the two short weeks we had together, you turned everything I thought I knew on it’s head. You made me realise that I have no need to hold out for a love which doesn’t love me because there are so many wonderful people who will come into my life, you being just one of them. I had the most wonderful time with you and I wish you a life full of happiness and big love. You have an incredible light to shine on this world and I look forward to seeing you develop as you grow and listen to your soul.

Mr Bearded Man, that dream that you inspired will stay with me for a long, long time. To be asleep and dreaming yet to be so awake and present, seems to sum you in a few short words. I can still hear my heart beating with the realisation that home is not a place but a feeling.

 no-one has to love you unconditionally

Dad. It’s unlikely you’ll ever read this. But the relationship I’ve had with this man is probably the one which has had the most impact on me. I’m not me because of you. I’m me, despite you. You gave me many traits; stubbornness, intellect, tenacity, the ability to manipulate a situation. But I CHOOSE to use these for good and not bad. You taught me how to deal with rejection at a young age. How to be strong when you’re scared, so scared that you don’t want your voice to work even if it could, which it can’t. You taught me that no-one has to love you unconditionally because of their title or relationship to you. You taught me to not depend on anyone other than myself. You taught me that there are people out there, that when the going gets tough, they get going. You taught me that words with no actions will only ever be words. You taught me that I am not one of these people. I love fully, I support those around me, I do my best for those who need it, I don’t run away from my problems. I am strong. I’ve learnt it’s ok to cut the ties with deadwood in order to keep yourself afloat. And I’ve learnt how to forgive the people who break you the most. Because holding on to grudges is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. It doesn’t serve me. And I forgive you. And I hope you find some peace in your broken soul.

Grandad you are a true gentleman. I’ve seen you cross, irritated, frustrated but you have never once misplaced this towards me. You teach me, time and again, how to dance properly and don’t say a word when I tread on your toes. You still hold my hand as though I am a little girl. You tell me you love me often. You listen to my dreams and my plans and you don’t question my ability to achieve them or make me feel silly for wanting them. You are grateful for all the time we share together and so am I.

 the world would be a better place if more people were like you

Duncan, the perfect note to end this story on. You are the best brother a girl could wish for. There’s not much to say other than the world would be a better place if more people were like you. Thankyou for being my best friend. Thankyou for making sure I fly high. And for helping me laugh when it all comes crashing down!

 

So thankyou to all of the men in my life, who have in some way made me the strong, loving, woman I am today. Confident and proud of my yin in a yang world.