Here I am stuck in the middle with you…

I had the title “can we just stop being dicks to each other” for this post, then when I mentioned writing it on Twitter, a random stranger informed me ‘my title was unlikely to appeal to anyone, still less convince them’ 😂 so yeah here we are. 

So the dust has settled after the General Election and I find myself needing something else to get wound up to the point of meltdown regarding the Labour Party. Because we all love a good moan and politics is fruitful for this. So here is the problem I found of late. I no longer felt really sure where I belong within the factional jungle of the party. As a result of this I’ve found myself being extremely close to people who (by the weird laws of the LW/RW divide) should be the enemy and then found myself taking flack from those who should be on “my side.” So what’s the crack with that? More importantally is it possible to just not take a side? Unless it involves sharing memes of T May in wheat related situations?

First things first. I get it. I completely understand Labour is a Broadchurch and that is actually a huge part of the appeal to me because my views seem to constantly evolve. They change as I learn and as I reflect on how my views have been shaped. This is a big the point for me, because fact is, I am still learning and I don’t claim to have this huge back catalogue of knowledge regarding the party and the factions and associated groups. I am still very new to this and the level of sneering directed at me doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. Being new doesn’t automatically make you the enemy. It doesn’t mean we suddenly think we have a right to take over. So can everyone stop acting that way. Because ironically that’s really not very progressive. No I am not a genius, I’m not steeped in the history of the Unions or the Fabians. My campaign log is obviously not as big as yours, but I have a heart, I have real life experience and I’m told I have a knack for being quite engaging  when it comes to getting people to listen. So can you just accept me for that? The thing is for a party that’s meant to be this broadchurch of variety we don’t half seem keen to label people into boxes. More often than not having heard the smallest amount of information about them and I think it’s really not doing any of us any favours. 

I feel like I should do a slight disclaimer now. Because I understand, sadly from experience, the abuse and the awful treatment that does go on within the party. I’ve witnessed the vile antisemitism, the misogyny, homophobia and racism. It’s very real. It’s very much a problem and it very much needs calling out. This piece is not yet another denial of abuse that seems to be quite popular at the moment. I get some people’s experiences are enough to put them off a “group of people” and I respect that. This is just how I see things and what I’ve found.

It’s difficult to follow the rule of just getting along with people because they are “on your team” Particularly when you have to watch these people say things or do things that you don’t agree with. It’s a very simplistic point of view to just think that a factional position within a political party is all you need to get along with someone. If anything this fans the flames of the flames of the toxic atmosphere that goes on because you’d rather turn a blind eye to what your mate does rather than admit that “your team” can be a bit of an arsehole at times. The hatred of those from the other side can really blinker what I thought we were meant to be all about. 

Case in point I end up finding myself in certain social media groups having to justify campaigning for Labour at all. How on earth has it come to that? That there is accusations that you are accepting of antisemitism because you want a Labour MP? Yet I also get accused of being a right wing red Tory, on the very day my tax credits had been stopped with no warning (leaving me crying for most of the day in fear of how we would survive) because I happened to not agree with what a certain poster boy for the left had said on Twitter. Christ alive it’s ridiculous. Why have we suddenly reached a point where you are completely stereotyped into a label for the sake of a factional war that does no body any favours. 

I know it’s about so much more than this. I know it’s about control and the future of the party and what’s happened in the past. I get that. What I don’t get is why it has to poison absolutely everything. I’ve had to completely cut ties with people I once quite liked, well I quite honestly looked up to, because their hatred of the opposite faction made them completely incapable of discussing or understanding other points of view. I feel like for the extreme elements of both wings of the party there is a real tit for tat battle going on. It makes things really shit for people caught in the cross fire by the way. This hatred and need power will also mean my tax credits won’t be starting up again any time soon. It means more people like myself miss out on opportunities within the party as it continues to be about where you stand rather than who you are. I can hate elements of what a faction stands for. I can do that for both sides. I know people within those groups who can hate elements of it too. They can also call it out. The automatic assumption of a person you don’t know just doesn’t feel very Labour to me. Yet it happens. All the time. Had I of followed this narrative I probably would be pretty lonely right now as some of my greatest friends with Labour are members of Progress and members of Momentum. One of my inspirational mentors is a self proclaimed neutral. It’s her outlook on things that made me start to enjoy being part of politics again. I get the very best of all worlds I think.

So this is the thing. I don’t expect the disbanding of the groups. I don’t even expect them to get along. For me it’s about stopping with the sweeping assumptions of one another. We sure as hell wouldn’t stand for it in any other area of society so why do it in the party we love. I stick by my mantra of you’re either an arsehole or you’re not. I’m going to find that out then make my decision. Nobody is exempt from this rule. Including me. For now I just want to be Labour and focus on that. I hope people can understand. For every person who’s quite rightly proud of their team within the broadchurch there’s those who would rather not be pigeon holed. Those that know me know my drive is a personal one, because I need to be the change that I want to see and also I can’t afford my “principles” to force me to cut off my whole families nose to spite my face. The problems I face right now are very real and they are my driving force. There are many more out there feeling the same. Let’s not forget that.

 *removes splinters from Bum and gets comfy on my fence with a nice brew* 

The Journey of the Women’s Quilt – An update and what’s next! 

Back in February I first shared the story of The Women’s Quilt. A quilt born out of love from some of the very saddest stories you could hear. “The most beautiful project that shouldn’t exist.” The Quilt was inspired by the Femicide Census, alongside the Counting Dead Women Project by Karen Ingala Smith. My original post about the project can found here.

For those unfamiliar with The Women’s Quilt each square represents a woman killed by her partner or an ex. Five Hundred and ninety eight women, between 2009 and 2015. The square focusing on the life of the woman. Representing them as the life that they lived rather than just another unidentifiable number making up a statistic. Because that is the essence of what the project is about. As Roxanne Ellis who started the Quilt project up, said back in February, “Last year the Femicide Census was released and I just felt something needed to be done, a visualisation of all the women who have lost their lives. Something other than a number on a page that can be glossed over. Something that emphasised the names of the women, as so often it’s their names are forgotten”  so that’s why it’s important that this story is revisited. It’s a marathon not a sprint and there is a lot of work to do in order to keep the aims of the Quilt in focus and most importantly achieved so that we can fight for the women and make their voices the ones that are heard. 

When I first posted about The Women’s Quilt the project was still very much in process. Not all names had been represented, many still needed their patches made. A short amount of time after the publication of my post and similar post raising awareness of the project, all names had someone sewing for them. The Facebook group set up to organise the project now has over 1300 members. The GoFund me page raised over £800. Patches were made and sent in from across the county, even support from across the globe. People shared the stories of the women from their patch. Members of the project supported one and other. The project was featured in articles across the media, radio, television and had online campaign including support on Twitter from several MPs & celebrities such as Michael Sheen! Karen Ingala Smith (Counting Dead Women Project) talked of the Quilt when she was a speaker at the Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse Conference. Perhaps most bitter sweet of all was the contact made from families of the women featured in the Quilt. Their love and support for a project that focused on the life of the person they loved. The very meaning of what the Quilt is all about. 

So what happened with the Quilt? The plan was for it to be unveiled on International Women’s Day. With all the patches completed and with the hard work of the dedicated group of quilters who held several days and some very long nights of sewing bees the Quilt was completed and then on the 8th of March 2017, International Women’s day launched in New Palace Yard at the Houses of Parliament. Supported by so many MPs who came to look at, listen, talk and share the story of the Women’s Quilt.

The work didn’t stop then. The Quilt still needed the finishing touches and the project still had work to focus on. The amazing team continued their incredible and dedicated craftwomanship to completed spot repairs, putting on the wading and backing and tying the Quilt. As the work on the physical Quilt continued so to did the work with the project as a whole. New ideas for craft protects, decisions on what would happen with the Quilt and sharing the continuing horrifying stories of domestic violence and women losing their lives at the hands of a partner/ex.

So what happens next? Well for the Quilt it’s next journey will be to the Women’s Aid Conference at Warwick University. Where Roxanne shall be speaking about its story. The plan will then be for the Quilt to be displayed around the country so it’s story can be seen and heard far and wide. A scrap book is being made to travel with the Quilt to explain its tale. Stories are being written about the people involved in the project and those impacted by it. A real voice for the victims. The craft side of the project shall also continue, The Women’s Quilt will expand into providing lap blankets, small quilts, trauma teddies and similar to children living in refuges, so they can have something of their own that has been made with love. The next step is to set up The Women’s Quilt as a chairty organisation.  To make all this possible we need your continued help and support. You can follow the Quilts journey on Instagram and Twitter @thewomensquilt you are welcome to join us all in the Facebook group if you would like to help/support the project

Unfortunately the fight continues for the very real issues raised from The Women’s Quilt project. The fight on behalf of the victims as the media continues to ignore the life and voice of the victims in favour for gory details and excuses for the perpetrators. Every week in England and Wales two women are killed by their current or former partner. From January ti May this year 61 women have been killed by men. How many could you name? Let’s fight for them and fight for their families. To ensure that they report with the victim and the love ones they have left behind in mind first. That they focus on the women whose lives were worth so much more than getting  clicks to a news article and being just another number within a statistic. Let’s make sure no excuses are made for the person who stole that life. Don’t let the victim be blamed when their voice can no longer be heard to defend themselves. Help us campaign to change the way domestic murders are reported in the press. Best way to do this? Contact your MP, ask them to support The Women’s Quilt project and ask them to put pressure on the media to change. Together we can make the voices heard. The journey continues and thank you for your support. ❤️

Happy Labour Birthday Loz. 

Okay it’s been slightly over a year but I’ve had to take a break from writing about the party, because if I’m honest the social media side of politics is really dragging me down. On a positive note I’ve actually been quite busy out and about campaigning for my incredible local party. So actually life isn’t all that bad AND I get to leave the house for freedom. Winner.

I think I lost my way a bit when joining the party. Went on a journey and came out at the end feeling like I’ve been a member for 400 years. So hats off to you members with all those years under your belt. If I’m exhausted by it all you must be positively comatosed. Some days I want to be Labours number one activist, others I want to cut my card up and just go back to life PPM (pre party member *looks back misty eyed*) Is there any better way to learn what you’re made of than a rollercoaster of polices, leadership elections, featuring in the Daily sodding Express, changing “sides”, being trolled and making a whole load of friends? No. Nope. Nada. There really isn’t. So here’s what I think. 

I was incredibly naive when I first joined the party. In the fact that I had no real clue of the true spectrum of the Broadchurch it really is. Having always followed politics I felt like I had some kind of idea of what the Labour Party stood for. Upon joining I realised I didn’t have a clue. So here I am thinking I’m just joining the Labour Party, everybody has the same goals and ideas with no clue about the fact that, whilst yes people may have similar goals and clues, very many people have very different views on how they should be achieved. Quite literally polar opposite. From the off set it felt like I needed to pick a team. A choice I was quite literally unprepared for. Clueless me had never really heard of Momentum, or Progress, Fabians and Labour first. In the first week I had to google what exactly a Trot was 🙈Being a member of the Labour Party is an education on the different factions inside political parties whether you want it or not. 

I make no bones of my journey in deciding what camp I belong to. Since I started writing this post (I’m an absolute queen of procrastination, I can start a blog then complete it 3 weeks later) a General Election has been called and I’ve made an important vow not to speak ill of our leader and try not to feed any of the internal warring that has been going on whilst we all have a much more important job to be doing. So for the sake of that I did join because of Jeremy but in the leadership election I joined the other team and I lost. Luckily as a Birmingham City fan I’m really used to being the losing team so I brushed myself off and carried on. My point here is that there often feels this need within the party to pigeon hole and stereotype people according to how they may view certain things. I found this really tricky because I can find myself agreeing with a few of the quite differing views. Resulting in everyone hating me. (Joke) This meant I really struggled with the narrative of you having to automatically dislike someone because they are on the different “team” because that’s a real tricky one for me. I have too many other measures when it comes to deciding how fond I am of some one. The measure of whether they are a Blairite, a Bennite, A Brownite, A momentum member  and so on is really low down my list of priorities. Basically it can boil down to “is this person an arsehole to me or people I really like? Yes/No. ”

For the first part of my membership I got far too drawn in by what I call “social media a Labour” I allowed myself to get drawn into factional arguments. The negativity and the anger consumed me. It also made me completely forget what I actually joined for in the first place. At times it made me feel very unwelcome. When you’ve got people hounding you on social media, calling you a Tory and that you don’t care about people that need help. When in actual fact you’ve spent the majority of the day crying because you’re not quite sure how you’re family is going to make ends meet…yeah that makes you really question whether you’ve joined the right party. On the other side of things I couldn’t understand the sheer venom and accusations that centred around the new membership. Absolutely none of this is what I expected to be thrown into when I felt inspired to take the plunge and join the party last year. Thankfully I received a decent piece of advice from someone I now count as a great friend from my new found social media Labour network. Basically it was like get off here and speak to people in real life. I class this as a turning point.

Perhaps the biggest problem for me when I joined, was the timing. By the time I had mustered up the courage to leave my baby daughter and go meet new people, Labour Party meetings were suspended for the duration of leadership election. This cut off a bit of a source for me. I’m pretty certain had I joined at a different time when meetings were in full swing my first year would of been completely different and slightly less challenging. Meeting real life labour members and getting involved in real world Labour activities is really what a huge part of this is all about. I feel that I should take a moment to stress that not all parts of Labour Social media are awful. I’ve built up an incredible network of people from across the country who have shown me support and love and it’s about so much more than the party. We talk about our kids, our partners, families, work, hopes and fears. We talk about the best way to cook a roast chicken dinner. I count these people as real friends. I’m lucky enough to have met quite a few now and I look forward to meeting more as we campaign and socialise together in the future. So if I talk about the importantace of the world of the Labour Party offline, it’s really important to be clear that had it not be for the network and motivation of the people I met online I wouldn’t of had the bravery to venture off it. 

Meeting Labour people makes me feel so happy. I soak up their stories and experiences like a sponge. It makes you realise why people feel so passionate about the party and gives me an understanding of why there is a sense of tribilism. For many the party is their life. I was lucky when I spent the day in Mosborough to give a hand in the by election and I got to speak to people who had over 30/40 years to the party. It’s not a hobby it’s a complete lifestyle. You really can’t help but understand why they might be a little weary of someone like me who has been around all of five minutes. This alongside the day I spent campaigning for the NHS started to reenergise me. 

A huge thing I have learnt about Labour is the focus on earning your campaigning stripes. I reckon that’s pretty fair too. I understand for some people that knocking doors just isn’t physically possible but you soon find out there is a whole selection of things you can do to support the party. Unlike other parties Labour can’t rely on huge donations from indivuals and businesses. A lot of the hard work comes from party members giving up their pennies and giving up their time. You honestly will never realise how hard this work is till you get involved yourself. It can be back breaking! I remember really losing my temper when some dared to tag me in a post they had written stating that the “keyboard warriors would take Labour to victory” personally I think that completely disrespects the hard work of those on the ground. Trust me, when it comes to trying to get the vote out in a local ward election no amount of hashtagging is going to match the forces of physically knocking on the door and getting that person down the polling station. I’m embarrassed that before I became so involved I stupidly thought that social media was the winner. I’m big enough to say I was wrong. I understand it’s not easy either and it’s often not thankful work but there is no real comparison of sitting behind a screen with your cuppa writing a blog on a campaign, to trying to leaflet in the freezing cold, bribing the one year old you’ve brought with you with chocolate buttons whilst trying not to have your fingers removed by a dog who sees anything that appears at the letter box as fair game. No it is not much harder to start a Twitter storm than it is knocking on the door of a complete strangers house not knowing how you will be received, what you will be called or how many times you’ll be mistaken for a door to door sales person. So yes of course in this modern era social media is an important campaign tool but no, it is not in any way shape or form a replacement for the good old fashioned canvass. 

In complete honesty there have been so many times in my very short tenure as a member that I’ve felt like jacking it in. Some of the social media arguments and the infighting, coupled with some nasty abuse I personally received made me miserable. When your mum is meant to be having a proud moment of watching you deliver a speech via Facebook live and she sees each and everyone of the venmous comments, it gets to you. Yet everytime I have this wobble over my membership I can guarantee one thing. The fantastic group of people I’ve come to love, always pick me back up again. When you get to meet and see the dedication from Labour Party members it’s impossible not to be enthused. When you meet Labour MPs in real life you feel proud, not to mention how incredible some of the hugs from them are (😂) and just how normal they end up being. Don’t know what I was expecting really but any question of not feeling like there are any MPs you feel represented with as a person can in my case be completely erased with 10 minutes in the company of Jess Phillips MP. Then you start campaigning for the local county elections and become completely inspired by the candidates your working for. They give you an education. Watching them work so hard for the area you live in and seeing the record of what they’ve achieved is a powerful motivator. I’m proud to play my part in helping them with reelection. I can talk passionately about them to the residents because I believe in them. Cllr Rosie Kirkand, Cllr Geoff Ellis and every single member working with them, they have sparked the drive up in me again and reminded me why I joined in the first place. To make a difference in the community. There are no better people to look up to than them when it comes to that. The last month helping out on both their campaigns has had an incredible impact on me. I’m much happier in my self. My anxiety is having less of an impact. There is no better medicine than going out with the team and just laughing my head off with them. I finally feel included. I belong. Too finish this on something I tweeted the other day but something that summarises this year in the end for me. Being a new mum, having moved to a new city can be quite isolating. I can honestly say the Labour Party has made me feel so included ❤ I know people have this poor view of politics but since I’ve been involved with the Labour Party I’ve felt a lot less lonely ❤#LabourFamily

Thank you all for having me. 

The Parent Trap

Oops. Here I am writing about my kid again. Sorry not sorry. I really didn’t want this to be like a “mum blog” Now don’t get me wrong there’s absolutely nothing wrong with them and if anything it seems to be quite “on trend” at the minute to have a big old bitch about how shit it is being a parent 👀 *pours saucer of milk for ones self, miaow*  All jokes aside it really can be shitty & I think it massively helps how open we all are about it now. It makes things easier knowing you’re absolutely not the only one who has days when they literally hate their life Any way as I was saying…firstly I don’t think I’m in any position to blog about parenting I’m winging it myself so zilch chance of me guiding others and secondly I did want to focus on politics. It’s just at the moment thinking about the state of politics makes me want to ram my head repeatability into a wall. Sooooo here I am after my last post, talking about my kid again. Which leads me on to thinking we all swear when:if we have kids we will be the different ones. We all probably hardcore eyeroll at parents from our smug world of  the freedom that is being a non parent but here’s the thing, all that stuff you swear you won’t do? You will do it. You will do it times a billion and then you will do a whole load of other shit, that you didn’t understand until the exact moment you are handed a human being that depends entirely on you. (When it feels like only yesterday the only thing dependable about yourself was waking up every Sunday with a hangover of epic proportions) so today’s post is exactly that. If it was a buzz feed article I guess it would be called 10 things you swore you wouldn’t do as a mom (yet here you are doing them) 

Baby spam. If you know me you know I’m so guilty of this I’m genuinely shocked people still remain my Facebook friend. (You’ve all unfollowed instead probs so thanks for thinking of my feelings) So sorry for every time I moaned about people always posting pics of their kids. I get it now you literally have nothing else to take pictures of.

Having 90% of all conversations based around your off spring. I get that now too. You literally have nothing else to talk about. (Because they take over your WHOLE LIFE)

A strange obsession with bowel movements. Honestly I think I talk about poo at least once day. This never happened Pre parenthood. Dunno what it is but you have a kid and you just talk shit. Literally. 

 As much as you can’t stand it when you’re on the receiving end you will judge other parents. Any one who denies this is a big fat liar 😏 It doesn’t mean you’re actually any better or worse it’s just the natural reaction to the fact that parenting is not a one size fits all topic. Visit any Mumsnet thread for futurer confirmation of this 😬🙄

Further to above everyone will suddenly have an opinion (or five) to share with you whether you asked for it not. Just practice this face 😊😊😊

Birth stories are badges of pride. The bigger the better. Always best shared with someone in the final trimester of their first pregnancy, trust me they will love to hear it. “Yep so they just cut me open with what can only be described as gardening shears, whilst I wailed like a wild rhino then shit myself”  (ffs see! Poo talk)

If you don’t get the above then you get the other end of the scale. The birth queens. “Drugs, oh no. I got through it with a warm flannel on my forehead and a packet of Werther’s original for pain relief whilst listening to the soothing sounds of pan pipes. Took 8 minutes.” 

Chocolate button bribery. You start off all organic and shit but you try to get through a food shop on just an hours sleep, in a busy Aldi on Monday whilst your child is trying to throw themselves head first out of the trolley seat because you won’t let them eat a packet of raw bacon, and you think you’re going to appease them with a carrot stick organically grown in Wiltshire. Yeah good luck with that. 
Parent blogs, parent memes, parent banter all becomes really funny. So funny that you’re hysterically laughing at them at 3 am whilst doing the nightfeed. God bless you Mum Probs and Hurrah for Gin (Personal faves, other parenting blogs available just not even half as funny) 

Germs. For a good while you will fear them. Your house will be something akin to the bio hazard rooms set up in an episode of 24. You no longer have finger prints as they have been filled in my by layer upon layer of hand gel. You lay awake at night wondering about that 0.01% of germs your anti bac wipes can’t kill. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to request that all visiters must wash their hands (twice) before holding child. I honestly can’t pinpoint what happens but almost over night your watching your child eat an Ella’s kitchen fruit puff,they’ve discovered under the sofa whilst muttering something about it being good for their immune system. It’s one of life’s little mysteries for sure. 

The lack of Handbooks. No they don’t leave you with an instruction manual to take home when you leave the maternity ward. Trust me I’m as shocked as you are about that. You literally have no idea what the rules are and they are just send you off on your way with this baby thing. I mean even Pets At Home give you a fact sheet when you buy a guineapig for Christ sake. 

(Image Hurrah for Gin) 

You not only suddenly understand why there is a need for parent & toddler spaces but you become the parent & toddler space  police.  “Nice kid you’ve got there” as you death stare the childless arsehole in the BMW who’s nicked the last p&t spot whilst you have to apply advanced physics undo a car seat, remove, child, change bag, buggy, child and yourself out of a space the size of a postage stamp. 

Talking of physics you will probably need a degree in that and building science after having a child. Because you will now be the owner of at least 20 pieces of apparatus that not only do you have to set up in the first place but then have a krypton factor challenge of pullies, straps and levers you have to complete EVERY TIME YOU USE THEM.

“Oh we will only have wooden/classic toys.” Ha ha ha ha ha. I guarantee your living room will have more gaudy coloured plastic it in than your local recycling plant faster than you say Iggle Piggle. 

Trust me we might all swear we won’t ever plonk our kids in front the tv but if you want to drink a whole cup of tea whilst it’s still warm then you wanna be praising the Lord for CBeebies. Plus sometimes Tom Hardy reads stories on there and we deserve that. 

Baby on board signs in cars. I used to see this and just think wanker. Now I am that wanker because I’ve realised it might be useful to explain to people why I’m driving like a learner on a Sunday afternoon. Plus I read it makes the emergency services aware you have a baby in the vehicle if you have an accident and obviously that’s now scared the bejesus into me so much that I’ve displayed my little yellow diamond with pride. 

You will suddenly discover the 234 other uses for baby wipes. 

If you’re a couple you will argue about anything from night feeds to the number of vests your kids should have on. Some days you’ll literally despise the sight of each other. That’s ok. Because you ask any one else and they will admit the same happens to them. You’re tired, stressed and anxious it’s human nature to take it out on the ones close to you and you do love each other really. 

Continue to refer to yourself as mummy or daddy hours after the kid’s in bed. Or in public. When you haven’t even got a kid with you. 
You’ll have all these grand plans for the baby clubs, trips and hobbies you’ll get up to. I class a triumph these days as being washed & dressed by 12pm. 

A star fishing kid taking up all the space in your king size bed will happen. No matter how much you swear it never will. 

Obviously some people are sensitive to things they read, watch and hear (I cry at anything involving dogs without fail) but honestly I can’t even cope with situations now involving harm or upset to children. It’s just too close to home. I’m sure I wasn’t dead inside before the small one was born, but I could manage the VTs on comic relief with a few tears. Now I have to turn it over. Because I can’t cope with the idea of being in that position myself. How very lucky I am to not be in the situation so many mothers face in some other counties.

Any sense of prudishness or self consciousness when it comes to your body/self will be ERIDCATED. There is nothing dignifying about a stretch and sweep or nearly drowning your midwife when she breaks your waters. Honestly you don’t have the time to be embarrassed and from what I’ve heard it’s pretty bloody tricky to give birth if your going to insist on hiding all your lady bits behind the sheets. One day I will disclose the full unedited story of my childbirth experience and that will fully explain this part. Let’s just say it involved me waving the gas an air about like it was a cigarette, whilst discussing the types of pornography the Tories banned, in a room full of people that included my mother. WOW. 😂

Being in absolute awe of every day actions you wouldn’t bat an eye lid at before. Laughing. Eating. Walking. Putting bricks on top on each other. Incredible. You will record every second of it it.

Your phone will forever be at maximum storage level. 🙄

A sudden frightening awareness of your own mortality. For some this might be fleeting for others it really causes serious anxiety and upset. All I can say is you are not alone and this is very very common. I wrote a post a while ago on Post Natal Anxiety. It’s very real and very scary but there’s help out there so don’t suffer alone.

Fact is, everyone has the best intentions and ideas. Nothing wrong with that. Also nothing wrong in knowing that when your life literally completely turns upside down you’re allowed to just quietly forget all those things you swore you’d never do for the sake of 5 minutes of peace. It’s ok no ones judging you 👀😏 sod it. 

Dear Arabella…

I haven’t posted in a while. I have 3 posts on drafts that are half finished and that I just don’t feel like posting. It’s a pretty divisive world out there right now, subjects are easy to come by but having the passion and drive to not only write the post but have something you want people to read, is pretty tough.  I knew I wanted to do something for International Women’s Day but I just couldn’t think what. So I sat down and I wrote this. Hope you all enjoy it and if you don’t well who cares, it wasn’t written for you any way 😉

Dear Arabella,

Today is International Women’s Day. Yeah you’re one and you have no idea what this means but just so you know, to me, you’re already the most inspirational female in my life. Having you set me on a journey to a much better place. So I’m writing you this to tell you why and what I hope for you in the future. Because there is no one person I want to celebrate more than you.  I can already see the qualities that will take you to great  places and hope that sharing my mistakes will shield you a little. 

You made me get my priorities straight. There is nothing like suddenly having this tiny person who is completely reliant on you, to make you realise what’s actually important in life. 

One look at your face was worth every stretch mark, scar and change to my body. I honestly can’t believe we made you. 

You’ve made me one million percent become “one of those mums I swore I wouldn’t be. I one million percent don’t give an F.

Every tiny little progress you make has me in complete awe. You’ve made me appreciate the small and very important things in life that so often pass me by.

Baby spam. So much baby spam. You’re my world and sometimes that world is too good not to share. 

Yeah I do talk about you lot. You’re probably one of biggest topics of conversation and I see no shame in that. You’re my greatest achievement to date. 

Sorry I’m still learning. I don’t know everything and I won’t always get things right. Just know I always have the best intentions at heart and this life is a learning curve for all of us. 

Embrace failure. Don’t be frightened or embarrassed by it. Use it to drive you to a better place. Sometimes you’ve got to reach the very bottom before you find your way back up to the top. 

There is no problem in life that can’t be helped by having a cup of tea with your mum. (Trust me from experience on this one)

Learn to let things go. Moving on can be one of the hardest things you might ever have to do but it will eventually return the greatest rewards. You are the biggest testimount to that. 

Stay fearless. When the stairs you’re so determined climb become mountains keep that motivation and you can reach the top. 

Don’t let any one ever take your kindness for weakness. There is nothing wrong with wanting to live a life where you consider everyone’s feelings. People use this as such an insult these days but snowflakes are beautiful and unique kid, don’t let any one tell you otherwise 😉

Be what ever you want be. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Don’t conform, don’t be stereotyped and never ever let go of your dreams. There is no time limit when it comes to succeeding…mummy’s still working on her goals right now. 

Never lose your voice when it comes to the things you care about. Even if everyone else is sick of hearing it. If you care about it then you talk about it.

Always make friends with every dog you meet 🐶 Dogs are better than people sometimes. It’s okay to admit that. 

Image isn’t everything. If I’m honest I worry a little for you. The pressures of looking good seem bigger than ever these days . I dread to think what pressures there will be for you in the future. Just try not to let it consume you, or obsess over it. Mummy loves a selfie as much as the next person but sometimes there’s more to life than looking good. It took you coming along to make me realise that (it’s either the house, you or mummy that gets to look presentable, I haven’t got my shit together enough for it to be all three) 

Laugh. There is honestly no better sound.

Dance when ever the mood takes you. Don’t grow out of that. You’ve loved music since the moment you were born. Find happiness in your favourite songs. 

Wear what ever you want. Seriously. 

Love whoever you please and don’t be scared to. 

The opinions of strangers on the internet are not worth giving a single second of your time too. Particularly those who are that cowardly they hide behind a fake account. 

I’ve wasted far too much precious time and energy on hate. Don’t do the same. Dislike something for sure but never let it consume you because it doesn’t solve a single thing.

Keep playing with cars and trains. I would be just as happy if you wanted to become a mechanic than I would if you became a nurse. There’s no “jobs for boys” or “girl jobs” just jobs for YOU. 

Embrace the sisterhood. Try not to see other women as competition. “When women support each other, incredible things can happen.” 

There is no need to apologise for supporting the cause of powerful women. It does not for one moment mean you don’t care for the rights of men or hate them. No more than donating to the British Heart Foundation would mean you have no care for  those with cancer. It’s a shame I have to even tell you this, such is the world we live in today.

Be you for you. No one else should tell you otherwise. Know your own mind and follow it to the exact letter.

Read. There’s no better comfort than curling up with a good book.
In all honesty I really don’t care who you’ll vote for, just as long as you vote at all. 

No matter where you go or what you do, I will always be beside you. It’s just important that you be you’re own biggest cheerleader and don’t let anyone take away your love, drive and determination.

Love Mummy ❤

A voice for the victims ~ The Women’s Quilt 

Kay Diamond was 52 years old when she died. Battered to death by her boyfriend within hours of him being released from prison for domestic violence offences. Kay had been punched, kicked & attacked with a weapon that was believed to have been a dog chain. Left with extensive bruising from head to toe and whilst a police officer fought to resuscitate Kay, Anthony Blye stood there and rolled a cigarette. Two months after Kay’s death, her daughter Rachelle Owen took her own life on the rail tracks near Hoylake Station, Wirral. She was just 16. 
As tragic and heartbreaking as this story is, the chances are you’ve probably not heard of Kay, Nor her daughter. The case may not be a familiar one. Nor is this story and the issues involved with it an isolated one. 598 women were killed by a current or former partner in the U.K. between 2009 and 2015. That’s an average of two a week. Two grandmothers or mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, friends, neighbours. They’ve left holes in people’s lives that can’t be replaced. These woman are more than just another statistic and their names deserve to be remembered. I’ve recently discovered and become a part of a project that hopes to do that. 

This week when scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed a post stopped me. It was a beautiful patch for a quilt. With an accompanying post that really pulled me in. “I have finished my first patch for The Women’s Quilt, in memory of Sylvia Rowley-Bailey, who was attacked as she sat at her computer and whose body was found with 23 knife wounds. Her killer was only sentenced to five years for manslaughter (raised to 7.5 on appeal) because she was deemed to have ‘nagged him’. ” Adele’s post led me to join the Facebook group to find out more and so I became a part of The Women’s Quilt. 

The aim of the group is to create a quilt made of patches decorated with the names of the women who have lost their lives between 2009 & 2015 at the hands of a partner or ex. Ideally the quilt will be put together in time for International Women’s Day on the 8th March this year. The project is not just for those who can sew. You can paint the patch or glue. Not just strictly for women to be involved either! Anyone is welcome regardless of gender.

The idea came from Roxanne following the release of the Femicide Census, a database containing information on women killed by men in England and Wales since 2009. It was developed by Karen Ingala Smith and Women’s Aid working in partnership, with support from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP and Deloitte LLP. The census aims to provide analysis that can provide a clearer picture of men’s fatal violence towards women.  The information pulled together into a report published in December 2016.

Roxanne told me: “Last year the Femicide Census was released and I just felt something needed to be done, a visualisation of all the women who have lost their lives. Something other than a number on a page that can be glossed over. Something that emphasised the names of the women, as so often it’s their names are forgotten, like with Reeva Steenkamp. When these things get to court the emphasis is on the man, not the woman. For instance one of the men had his sentence reduced because “she nagged”. So the project started with me adding friends, who added friends and from there it just exploded. We have quilting groups around the country who have put aside their normal work to make patches and people who have never quilted before learning. Even people who have said they have never sewn before.This project has really brought people together and for many it has been cathartic. One of the women murdered was the cancer nurse for the woman who made her patch’s husband. And another provided student support for the woman who made her patch and actually talked her out of quiting college three times.” 

That’s one of the incredible things that strikes me about this group. The love & warmth I feel from it. The admin team  along with Roxanne do a fantastic job in running the project.  You see a real care from the people who are members and a constant reminder of the groups purpose and a drive to succeed. I’ve posted on this blog before about that feeling of the “sisterhood” I’ve never felt it stronger than within The Woman’s quilt group. I’m enjoying watching people post pictures of  the progress of their patch, passionately share the story of the women they have choosen to represent, explain their own experiences and post pictures of the completed patch and just like the women who’s voices their stand for, each patch is beautifully  unique. 

The Women’s Quilt now has the support of the wonderful Jess Phillips MP and together with those who run the project will work to get the quilt displayed. This is not a political group I may add. This is about the women themselves and ensuring they are at the very heart of this. No longer just a number but a realisation of a women lost. 

I don’t ask much from the people that read my blog. The fact that you take the time to read my musings is more than enough. With this post though I am going to ask.  The names have now been completed but the work goes on to get the project funded so the Quilt can be displayed around the country.

If you can donate even the smallest amount then please do by the following:
The group can be found through this link
For future information regarding the Femicide Census:

0808 200 0247 Freephone National Domestic Violence Helpline. 
Finally this is dedicated to Kay. The much loved mother to a daughter and a son. Younger sister and aunt. Beloved daughter. A woman who travelled the world in her twenties and was described as bright, clever and quick-witted. For Kay and for her daughter Rachelle. May they both be rembered and rest in peace ❤

Thank you for reading. 

NHS Campaign Day 

I went out on Saturday to support the Labour National NHS campaign day. It was the best thing I could of done at the moment to remind me exactly what I joined this party for. More than just a day of gathering signatures, it gave me the opportunity to speak to people and gain an insight into the views, needs and experiences of others. It can become really easy at the minute to just live in the social media bubble when it comes to politics. An echo chamber where you can be safe and secure in the knowledge that you know exactly how people think and feel. At the moment that echo chamber feels quite negative, stale and toxic. It can leave me questioning why I want to remain involved and feel that annoyed with it all that I know it would be easier to quit. Thank god for Saturday. For getting outside and speaking to real people. It’s given me that kick up the bum I needed. 

I heard a lot of negative things about the NHS campaign day. Yes I get it’s been a focus before and yes I get it’s a safe bet but I think if there is one thing that gets people willing to open up and talk to you in the street, the NHS is probably it. For a new member on her first real local campaign that was perfect for me. Not only that but with the pictures seen in the media of late and the talk of an NHS in crisis I can’t think of a more important time to be getting out there and fighting for it. 

Saturday offered me some excellent point of views, opinions, ideas and experiences. It gave me an opportunity to discuss my own views and experiences. Most importantly of all it gave me a sense of purpose. Talking to the couple in their 80’s who had genuine concerns of how they will manage to look after one and other with the current poor quality social care support offered, to the girl who was entirely grateful for the support given to her Mum as she recovered from a serious stroke and the couple who told me with pride about the work their daughter did for the local hospital. I’m reminded that I got into politics to try and play a part in making things better. Nothing drove this home more than the guy I stopped who told me his story as a worker in mental health services. I respect his confidentially and won’t share his name but his story is the one that will stay with me forever. 

When someone opens up to you with the line “Do you know what happens to these people when the service is not available. They die”  You come to the crushing reality that discussions regarding the NHS recently are not tabloid sensationalism but real and happening to people on a daily basis. In no area more so, than that of Mental Health Services. I am asked if I can guess how many beds dedicated to the treatment of serious mental illness there are in my local area and I am then told there is just one. ONE. This is followed by hearing that often he works a 24 hour shift as he feels like he can’t leave a person safely alone but there is no one else available to support. That recently he had to get involved in a race with other counties to secure his patient a bed in CORNWALL. He talks passionately and with great sadness of how the cuts are made to services and yet they are expected to just try and cope. Now I can read these facts in several reports across the UK press in the last few months. It was well reported last year that over half the counties Mental Health Trusts had to cut crisis beds, despite a promise of 1 billion pounds worth of funding from the government. Nothing really drives this home more than being in the company of someone who lives with the result of the funding cuts every day. Before the inspirational guy walks away to carry on with his shopping, he tells me how it’s quite easy for people not to care about mental health, to dismiss it as an area of unimportance when it comes to the health service. These people will never understand until it happens to them, or their children, a partner. Maybe when they go through begging for help when there is nothing to offer. Seeing their loved one is stuck in a hospital corridor, will they understand the importance of needing a well funded mental health support network. I don’t think the words will ever leave me. 

So here’s the thing. Perhaps I have 2 real objectives to this post. Firstly the NHS is so much more than just your hospital or local GP surgery . I think many people are guilty of thinking that way. It’s a huge operation that deals with not only front line care but support, rehabilitation and awareness. All of these areas are struggling under huge pressure and you never know when you might need their help. Every person you speak to will have a personal experience to share regarding the NHS, chances are most of you reading this started your life via an NHS service. The people who work so hard within it and don’t go home when their shift ends because they care. Please don’t ever forget the huge importance of the service and why we should fight to keep it. 

Then from a Labour Party point of view. Whilst as Labour members many of us may struggle to keep focused. A few will feel like that the events of the last few months makes them feel they have no option but to walk away. The war amongst the “factions” of the party continues as people get dragged in to scoring points and fighting amongst one an other. Let us all have that moment to remind us who we are representing. What we hope to achieve by members.  For me I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to meet people and have an experience that makes me want to talk less about the negatives within the party and more about the issues people are facing out there. Away from the echo chamber. Will I still have a moan about the party? Oh yes absolutely! However this new member has learnt a sobering lesson. To any other new members out there who feel unsure about joining in on campaigning I say put the phone down, step away from social media and do it. The reality check works wonders.

Thanks for reading. ❤

Diary of an under achiever…

I know everyone gets wound up with the whole ‘New Year, New Me’ posts. Resolutions that get broken within approximately seven minutes of the clock chiming midnight and diets that last two days before you eat yourself into a cheese coma. It’s all become a bit of a joke or in some cases, I am sure quite rightly, people don’t really feel like they need to work on anything at all. This post however will set unashamedly set out the goals I want to achieve and if I fail you can roll your eyes and laugh at yet another pointless New Year promise 😬

Here’s the thing. I’ve always felt like quite the under achiever and the main factor to blame in all this is my lack of trying. I feel so down on myself that I don’t expect to succeed my goals so use that as an excuse to not bother in the first place. So this isn’t really just about achieving some goals, it’s about improving my mind set to enable me to succeed. I feel like writing this blog and updating regularly on my progress will play a huge part in this. My posts will reflect on both successes and failures which in turn will hopefully keep me driven to not loose sight of want I want to achieve. I know I’m not perfect, chances are I might not even be able to meet some of the aims I set but sharing what I’m doing will increase my confidence to at least try. Finally maybe the audience of the blog post and any comments may feed into any slight narcissistic tendeancies I have. If that doesn’t force a will to succeed then I really don’t know what will. 😉

Some of the goals on my list will be the usual, common kind around this year. Improve health and look after myself better. Drink more water, Stick to a skin care regime, that kind of thing. Don’t worry I won’t turn this blog into a health and fitness one. I wouldn’t trust myself to do that justice but with my confidence really slipping of late and issues with health aniexty, working on a healthy lifestyle has got to be a starting point. I’m not doing any sort of faddy diet, I will be keeping an eye on what I eat and exercising at least five days a week. Will follow some tips from Joe Wicks Lean in 15 books, mainly because the recipes in there are incredible. Being the kind of person who could eat an entire birthday cake to myself…in one sitting, this is going to be an instersting journey and undoubtedly the hardest challenge I will have. 

Some of my goals are more simple but effective. Such as read more books. It’s clear to everyone that knows me that I spend far too much time on my phone. Wasting my hours on social media is effecting my ability to get things done. Arguing with random strangers on the internet about current affairs and politics is seriously effecting my ability to keep a positive out look. So I figure putting the phone down and picking a book up had to be a smart move. Which cleverly leads on to my next point (see I’m getting a hand of this blog writing) 

I want to take this opportunity of not being in a work to learn new skills. One of which will be a second language. At this point I have no idea what direction I want to go in terms or a subject to get in to. So that will be a huge thing to work on to. I haven’t been in a job for a year now and it’s made life a lot harder for our family so this year I would like to concentrate on earning again! My ultimate goal is to work in politics but I understand that’s not an easy career to just fall in too! Job hunting for something that works for me for now is at the top of the agenda! Because at some point this year I would like a wedding to start plan for 😬

This year I want to spend less time procrastinating in the house and more time getting out on adventures with my family. Need to make the most of being National Trust members and enjoy weekends together. It all plays towards that feeling of achieving something with my time. Don’t get me wrong some weekends are made for binging on box sets and that’s perfect but an aim to get out more will surely improve my positivity. The biggest dream is to see the Northern Lights. Hope I can make it happen 🌌

You can fall in a bit of a loneliness rut when you first become a parent. You feel quite fed up and lonely  but the thought of all the hard work it can take just to get out the house with a small person just puts you off making plans. You get caught in a bit of a circle that means you sit at home and feel a bit rubbish. So another part of this theme will be to make more time to meet friends. Both old and new. So 2017 will mean I will get round to that coffee date I promise and never get round to and something I would love, is to meet so many of the wonderful people I’ve come to know through the Labour Party (If your reading this expect a knock on your door anytime between now and December 👀😂) 

I have a baby book for Arabella and further to just the usual info you enter there’s sections on trips and memories. I need to start not only getting that book filled but enjoying every precious second 💜

Right, less talk more action for this one. I’m going to stop getting dragged down on the negativity of the Labour Party and social media. (It’s still toxic out there no matter what any one says) Instead I will start using my drive to get involved where it counts both locally and I hope at some stage this year nationally. It’s basically time to properly put my money where my mouth is and fully commit to being involved and more importantly making a difference.

I actually started helping out at a food bank late on last year and this is something I want to volunteer further with and campaign on. Food banks are so much more than just handing out food and I want to really highlight that. The plan is to focus a whole post on this within the next few weeks. 

Ultimately I would like this blog to play a big part in my 2017. I would love it to be successful but most of all I want to update regularly. Blogging shouldn’t be a chore and I want to write because it’s what I enjoy doing and not because I feel it needs to be done just to tick off a list.

So I don’t want it to look like my blog has lost its way and I will still take great interest and post about politics and current affairs, but I think opening this blog up (particularly after lovely feedback from my post “a mothers mind”) to discuss my own life and what I’m up to seems like a great direction for me to go in. Guess we will have to wait and see if I’m right or not as the feedback comes in. 

So that’s it. My own little goal sheet for this year to work on. I live in hope that readers will push me in the right direction and beat me with a stick when I start to appear like I’m giving up! Despite the great mentors I currently have helping me on this I reckon a few more won’t do me any harm in keeping focused. 

Happy 2017. Whether you’re hankering for change or you’re hoping for more of the same, I wish everyone the best either way 💜

The rise of the sisterhood 

Maybe it’s becoming a mum? Maybe it’s being an active member of the Labour Party? Maybe it’s feeling more confident in my own skin or maybe it’s finally growing up? I can’t help but notice of late a real rise in the sense of sisterhood. From close friends, old friends, new friends and, in some cases, friends I’ve never physically met I’m starting to feel a support network of positive words, support and encouragement and you know what? It feels bloody fabulous.
I’ve been mulling over a subject to write about for a while now. I’ve been lucky enough to have two posts receive great feedback, but subsequently have that sense of needing to meet an expectation – it’s a double-edged sword! In addition, let’s face it, there is a lot of shitty stuff going on in the world right now. It certainly seems that people are angrier and feeling more negative than ever, myself included. I could write pages on my feelings on Trump, the backlash Clinton is receiving, bloody Brexit and the accompanying sense of hate that seems to be winning at the moment. But do you know what? It’s tiring and I don’t want to add to it. Despite my current despair at the world right now, there’s something that keeps lifting me up and making me smile daily, and that is the sisterhood I’m seeing. It deserves to be praised and it deserves to be shared so here goes…

I’ve got something to admit. I’m a closet bitch. Or at least I was. I was very particular about who I let into my inner circle and very quick to cut you out without a second thought. I’d never felt comfortable being with big groups of girls and I always found men easier to get along with. I would have been embarrassed to even identify as a feminist. What an absolute crying shame, to be honest! Had I discovered ‘sisterhood’ sooner I might have been in a better place a lot quicker. I don’t think this is a new phenomenon, regardless of how on-trend Taylor Swift’s squad are in the media, but the benefits of sisterhood are something my eyes have only recently been opened to. 

Oh and here’s a quick disclaimer: this is not a man-bashing post. This post does not indicate I lack incredible male figures in my life who make me very happy and it does not mean I don’t think men help each other either. It’s a shame I have to even write this point but there seems to be so much hate and backlash at the moment towards women standing up for being bloody women that I feel I have to make myself clear. Obviously there are some people out there who appear that threatened by the idea of powerful women that they have to pull them down with negativity. Thank God I don’t have any arseholes like that in my life. Anyway, this isn’t a place for ‘whataboutary’, it’s about my new discovery of something that makes me feel really good about myself. 
Out of the darkness that is 2016, I’ve found a network of light: of women helping each other out, of inspirational female role models, of women standing strong and fighting back. It motivates me. I no longer feel embarrassed for championing women’s causes for fear of what others may think. It’s now the very opposite, I want to stand up and play my part too. 

Becoming a mum is a scary business. I’ve shared my issues in a previous post so I won’t repeat the struggles, but it’s tough. Out of the life-changing experience they call motherhood I’ve connected with so many people: old friends I had lost touch with, and new friends I’ve made from the soul connection of finding yourself responsible for a small person. It’s amazing. You suddenly have this whole group of ladies to share advice and common experience with. I’m not talking in a mumsy “this is the way it should be done” tone either. I’m talking a *delete as appropriate* “can you die from this little sleep?”/”should I be this miserable?”/”is it okay I miss my old life a bit?”/”I don’t think I know what I am doing!” frenzied rant. Finally we are learning that it’s okay not to be “perfect”. In fact, further to that, not only is it acceptable to discuss these “failures” publicly, but let’s applaud them. You only have to witness the surge in popularity of bloggers/pages such as the UnMumsy Mum, Constance Hall and Mum Probs and their phenomenal successful to see the sisterhood at work. We are not bitching about less-than-perfect parenting, we are making one another feel at ease with the knowledge that there is no such thing as perfect parenting. 

Now onto relationships. My personal view is that when it comes to relationships, ladies, we can be our own worst enemy in a competitive and bitchy world. A world that I played a part in, once upon a time. You pull each other down on your own stride to perfection. It can be a competition. Almost striving to “look” like you have the perfect relationship rather than live it. Taking out the bitterness from a romantic relationship on fellow females rather than the root cause of the problem.  To me however things are looking different. I’m starting to see girls stick together by calling out shitty behaviour and sharing endless empowering quotes. I’m proud that I can now be turned to in anothers hour of need to give advice and encouragement, particularly to those who are suffering from a break up. No longer am I bitter but I’m now an inspiration 💪🏻 . We can so often be the very worst at pulling each other down but we can also be the very best at building people back up again. Be it as little as that moment you’re redoing your lippie, six jägerbombs in at your local bar, whilst firmly telling the crying stranger she’s beautiful and clearly needs to be appreciated far more than that wanker who has read your Whatsapp, been seen online and then not replied for 7 hours. Been there? We all have. That’s the sisterhood at work. 

I can’t help but notice, from my own social media, a rise in women running their own businesses that are then promoted & championed by their girlfriends. This could be anything from selling Avon, doing lashes or baking the most unbelievable Cakes. In fact, according to a HSBC report published in March this year, the majority (59%) of business owners aged under 35 are now female! The number of women starting their own businesses has grown by 42% since 2010, with almost a third of new businesses now founded by women. Women are taking their passions and making a living from it, using social media to create a network market from their friends and, in turn, their friends and so on. 

Lastly to politics. By now you maybe think I’ve forgotten about politics! Since joining the Labour Party I’ve been bowled over by the number of incredible women I aspire to and get to talk with. Some of these women I’ve never even met in real life but they talk to me, motivate me and support me when I’m down. I’ve learnt from them. They’ve given me a whole new trail of thought to explore. They say nice things about my daughter ☺️. They’ve helped me build my confidence to believe I can follow a path into politics. I would be lost without each and every one of them. For a party which is far from perfect when it comes to female representation to be honest, there sure is no shortage of talented and driven women to look up to and feel inspired by. Here’s a shout-out to a few: to our incredible MPs, to my own hero, Jess Phillips, to the fantastic Angela Rayner, to the great work from the Labour women’s network, or the intelligent women I’ve met who were part of the Owen Smith Leadership Campaign, to Lisa Baines from Sheffield who took me under her wing and showed me the ropes for the Mosborough by-election as well as my first phone banking session, to Rosie Kirk from my local CLP who not only looked out for me at my first CLP meeting but has a blog that focuses on spreading a positive message for Labour women. To each and every comrade who is applying for a place on the Jo Cox Women in Leadership programme, where we don’t feel in competition with one another but stand in support alongside each other, I hope for us all to get a spot. Is there a greater figure to aspire to than the late Jo Cox herself. Her legacy will without doubt inspire future generations of strong, passionate women who are not afraid to stand up for every single cause they believe in.
Hilary Clinton may have lost the presidency but she has inspired a generation. Even in defeat she motivated us all to achieve:
“To all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable, powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams” ~Hilary Clinton. 
That’s what I will take from this year. I won’t feel down, I won’t feel sad and I won’t feel beaten. Whatever you want from life may we support you in it. Lift you up when you feel down and give you a pat on the back where it’s deserved. This is just the beginning and together we have got this. 

Special Thanks to Ali. For getting me to a place where I could get this piece done 🙌💛

A mothers mind. 

I started to write this piece a few weeks ago, in part as a response to some of the feedback regarding my post “the box I ticked” Having got through the first couple of paragraphs I stopped, put it on the back burner and then deleted. For one, I didn’t want people to feel that the content of my blog was just going to revolve around my first successful (in terms of views) post. I also didn’t want to open wounds that maybe I did not feel  ready to share or in fact ready to face myself. 

Today is World Mental Health Day. Today it feels right to do this. 

My last blog post received an (unexpected) overwhelming amount attention. More than I could ever imagine. I think at last count it’s 6 and half thousand views in just over a month. It featured within Britains most popular politics blog and was named checked by several political commenters. This means of course in the social media age, that the wider you reach, the more you open yourself to criticism. That’s to be expected of course and yes I will admit: I am not the worlds greatest writer, I’m not the most knowledgeable in the subjects I discuss & yes I am probably  “so much of a twee snowflake people could mistake my work Satire” ~ annomous commenter from Reddit. 

What really struck me, was an almost running theme that kept popping up in the comments regarding the post. This was across all social media sites that ‘The Box I ticked’ appeared on and people openly discussed amongst them selves, sometimes at great length. That subject was my state of mind. 

It’s extremely difficult to read complete strangers discussing the state of your mental health. Some of it was in a concerned tone, some was quite scathing of my motivates and some comments diagnosed me (incorrectly) as that could be the only answer as to why I no longer wanted to vote for Jeremy bloody Corbyn. The comments hit me right in a part that I wanted to keep well locked up inside of me. They made me feel that this baggage I still bear scars from was going to impact my dream goal of one day standing as an MP. I felt angry at myself and even angrier at my flaws. You don’t want to be difined by mental illness. Often you feel it’s a sign of weakness. When I think of some of my past decisions I feel ashamed and embarrassed. Every little thing got raked back up again. Till you reach a moment of clarity. If you can get through all these past episodes, if you can really sink to the lowest depths of despair, if you still have bad days and you still feel the aniexty but you achieve everything in spite of this…Then aren’t you an example of how you can positively define yourself as a sufferer of mental illness? My journey changed me. It changed me for the absolutely better and I can’t say for certain I would be the individual I am today if it wasn’t for what I had been through. So why wouldn’t I share it? 

I don’t want to go into incredible detail, mainly out of respect to my fiancé the incredible father to my beautiful daughter, who I attribute a huge part of making my world the better place it finally is and more importantly me the person I am today. Many years ago I suffered the break down of a relationship. I’m not going to say this caused my mental health issues as it’s clear I’ve had some underlying issues throughout my life and I’m notably an extremely emotional person but as a result I suffered a complete break down. I didn’t work, I hardly ate, I refused to leave the house, I counted down the hours till I could take the sleeping pills that enabled me to sleep. I didn’t live I just existed. I became a shell of my formal self in both personality and appearance. I cried till I had no tears left and I made completely irrational decisions including two attempts to take my life. My mind simply wasn’t emotionally capable of dealing with the situation. Old complexs retuned, I obsessed over my weight, my looks and my complete and utter inability to deal with the thought of people laughing at me just amplified all of the above. When the support of my absolutely incredible family and my one of a kind best friend pulled me from rock bottom it was still apparent that I wasn’t ‘cured’ I would feel euphoric highs then gut wrenching lows, I struggled to keep hold of my temper at work, I actually became quite a horrible person. I ruined a very close friendship and I lost sight of who I was. When enough is enough you have to face facts. You’re the problem and you’re the answer to fixing it. It’s meet with my doctor. I accepted my diagnosis of bi polar disorder and I took the medication perscribed. For some this meets it’s purpose and you’re functioning again. For me it kept me ticking over. It didn’t do much to remove the shield I had built around me or the; for want of a better word ‘alter ego’ I had created to hide behind. People that know of me will see a confident, self aware individual, they probably think I’m a bit vain too or court attention. I wouldn’t blame them for that it’s what I want them to think. For I am not that person. The real me is extremely sensitive, I absolutely hate the thought of people not liking me, I obess over it. I constantly worry of what people’s opinions are of me. So having something to hide behind suited me perfectly. False happiness can only sooth you for so long though and the only person you’re really kidding is yourself. Thank god I had reached that point where I was quite simply tired of the charade. It’s hard working pretending to be something you’re not and I just had enough. I’m not a great believer in fate but I am under no illusion that it was no coincidence that the time I started be myself again is the time that Chris entered my life. I could bore you for hours with stories about him but he loves me for the person I am despite every single flaw I think have. You become a good person with great people by your side. It’s at this point I feel it’s important to highlight how pinnacle a good support network is when it comes to mental illness. For every lucky person like myself with my fantastic family and friends, there are thousands who have no one. Mental health is more than just a health care issue, it’s a social issue, it’s a community issue, it’s a welfare issue. The current structure in place no where near reflects this and we need to fight to make sure it does.

My daughter being born was the the incredible moment at which I could see how far I’d come. Saturday 6th February 2016 couldn’t of been further from my lowest ebb. Arabella is my greatest achievement. So the niggling old anxieties that started to play up made me disappointed in myself. The fear of judgment returned, I was worried I wouldn’t be seen as a good enough mum. I lived in absolute fear of making a mistake that could harm my daughter and I was frightened that voicing my concerns would make people question my ability to mother. Whilst midwives and health visitors do a great job in looking out for signs and discussing Post natal depression, I feel more needs to be done regarding support for new mothers with a history of mental illness and awareness of the other types of post natal mental health issues. I didn’t feel detached from my daughter at all I had an incredible bond. When the HV asked the set questions regarding PND I didn’t fit the bill but I was starting to suffer with serious anxiety which strangely focused around my own health. I became convinced something was wrong with me, every little symptom I had I googled. I would lay awake at night feeling physically sick because I was that convinced I had an illness that would stop me watching my daughter grow up. I laughed about it with friends “oh yeah I have this weird obsession that I’m going to die, ha ha” but it wasn’t funnny and it was consuming me so much it was starting to take the enjoyment out of motherhood. This meant I stayed clear of mum groups, I found excuses not to leave the house, I was even too frightened to drive my car. The obsession would also fixate into fear of something happening to Arabella. I would invision an accident, an illness, a mistake that conjured up terrible images of what could happen to her. One minute I would be changing her nappy the next I would be uncontrollably in tears thinking of what could happen to her. 

Now I’m sorry if people think I’m going on too much with this piece but the above is important as I thought it was only me and that it was a ridiculous side effect of my past mental health issues. It is not and I’m hopeful some new mums might read this and feel reassured and relieved. Post natal ANIEXTY is a lesser known condition but it effects up to 10% on new mums. The fact that you don’t feel stereotypically depressed, combined with fear that new mums have about admitting they are not feeling quite right can result in so many mums suffering alone. People discussing my mental health as a new mum has made me want speak out to ensure other mums can don’t feel the same. I’ve seeked help and the treatment has seen me vastly improve. Bursting into floods in tears with my GP and have him reassure me that what I was feeling wasn’t unusual felt like the weight on my shoulders lifted. I still have quite a bit of health anxiety regarding myself but I’m in a completely different place with Arabella. I drive for miles with her in the car, we go shopping together, I socialise with other mums and I enjoy every second. I want this story to hopefully reach out to some one who can achieve the same.

So to wrap this up. My journey has shaped the person I am today and I’m proud of it. No I am not defined but I am moulded as a result of mental illness and do you know what? I am okay with that. It makes me feel much more compassion, I think twice now before I judge, I try to see the good in all and I try to remember everybody has their own demons. The steps to my recovery led to me finally joining the Labour Party,  getting back on course to my long forgotten goal. Despite these obsticles I stood on a platform and spoke publicly to hundreds of people at an Owen Smith event. Regardless of my aniexty regarding my looks and fear of other people’s views I stood and offered my self to criticism, I received some awful abuse and I had some real set backs. Yet I’m still here. I’m still going and I’m not done yet. 

No I’m not ‘fixed’ but I was not ever really broken, sufferers of mental health problems don’t just stop being human. So If you’re questioning my mental wellbeing then my answer to you would be that it makes me the person I am today and finally I couldn’t be prouder.

Thanks for reading.